HIGH-FLYING Selby RUFC face a severe test of their promotion credentials in Yorkshire Two tomorrow.
The third-placed Swans host fifth-placed Bradford Salem at Sandhill Lane, with coach Richard Nicholson looking to put “breathing space” between his side and their rivals.
All of the top seven are in contention for a top-two finish as the teams reach the halfway stage of the season after this weekend’s round of fixtures.
Selby are third having only lost to the three other sides in the top four and Nicholson is satisfied with his side’s progress so far.
“If someone had offered us the position we are in at this stage, we would have accepted it,” he said.
“We are in the mix. We had a great start, going seven games unbeaten, and hopefully we can push on.”
He added: “It is a very important game. If we get a good result it gives us some breathing space.
“It is an exciting league. It is so tight at the top, with six or seven teams having a chance of being there towards the end of the season.
“Every game is crucial because a couple of losses and you are down the table. Week on week, the pressure is there to get a result.”
The only absentee for Selby is Rob Triffitt, who has missed the last two games after suffering from flu.
Star centre Ryan Lonsdale is in line for a return to the Malton & Norton line-up for tomorrow’s home clash with Old Crossleyans.
A rib injury has kept the midfield man sidelined since Malt’s home win over Northern in North One East on October 27.
Joining Lonsdale in the squad for the Gannock clash will be fly-half and goalkicker Chuck Ramsay, who missed the club’s last game against Sheffield a fortnight ago due to an ankle problem.
Winger Henry Newitt is well on the road to recovery from an ankle injury, but is not expected to be fit for Saturday.
Club spokesman Bill Laidler said: “Ryan is still on course for this weekend – that is the big hope for us. We had a break last weekend so there should also be a few other players who are rested up and ready for action.”
Malt have won four of their last six games, only losing to promotion-chasing duo Wheatley Hills and Sheffield.
Laidler said: “The last two games have been against two of the top sides. In both of them we had chances, although I am not saying we deserved to win them.
“Old Crossleyans don’t have any stand-out players or stars, but they are a workmanlike side.
“But with us being at home, we would hope to win this one.”
Pocklington take a leap into the unknown when they welcome Northumberland side Morpeth to Percy Road tomorrow.
Morpeth are the only side in North One East that Pocklington have never previously encountered.
The North Easterners are three places and two points above Pocklington in the table.
Pocklington have named a squad of 20 players, but they hope to have flanker Jack Holbrough back.
The open side has missed two weeks with an ankle injury and has been working in Latvia.
Meanwhile, York host Scarborough at Clifton Park in a reverse of the scheduled Yorkshire One fixture.
York were due to travel to the East Coast tomorrow, but the games have been swapped and they will now go to Silver Royd on April 13.
Coach Sean Bass has steered York to five successive wins, three in the league and two in the Yorkshire Shield, and they go into tomorrow’s game level on points with their visitors.
Second-from-bottom York RI travel to Aireborough in Yorkshire Three.