YORK Acorn ARLC return to the elite tier of amateur rugby league this weekend with boss Scott Rhodes insisting they have the capablities to consolidate at that level and possibly push on for the play-offs.
The Blue and Golds went down from the National Conference League premier division two years ago but bounced back up last season.
A few pundits have predicted another relegation scrap, but Rhodes has other ideas, boosted by a 16-16 friendly draw with 2012 grand finalists Myton Warriors last weekend in which his men had two winning tries disallowed for forward passes.
Said the former York City Knights captain: “Consolidation is the aim. We’ve got the team to do it. If we can get a good 17 out every week, I’m sure we can cause a few surprises.
“I’m not wanting to talk about relegation. I think the play-offs are within us. We’ve got a young enough team and a big enough squad with some good quality. We’ve just got to be consistent.
“The game has probably changed a bit (since Acorn were last in the premier division) and a few teams have changed. I expect it to be tough and the players do as well. We’re optimistic.
"We know the teams that have come up with us – Egremont and Lock Lane – are two good outfits, and we played Myton who are a very, very good side. We know the division will be very competitive but there’s no reason why we can’t be as well.”
Matthew Woods, Ash Robson, the teenager who is back at Thanet Road after a spell in Leeds Rhinos’ youth set-up, and Andy Gargan, the experienced playmaker who is hopefully back as a regular this year, got the tries last weekend.
This Saturday, they kick off their campaign at East Hull.
Rhodes said: “The draw with Myton – we should have won it but for those two forward passes – has boosted confidence. We were well in there.
“I’m not saying we’ll go to East Hull and win but we’ll go with confidence. We’ll look to win every game.
“We set the bar last weekend against Myton. I know how well the lads can play. If they can get near that level we will be very competitive this season.”
York Acorn’s reserves also kick off their season on Saturday.
The Yorkshire Men’s League begins in April with Acorn ‘A’ in the premier division and Heworth ‘A’ in division two. This Saturday, though, sees the opening games of a pre-season cup competition in which the ten competing teams play a league format, with the top four qualifying for semi-finals in May.
Heworth have opted out of this cup but Acorn are involved, and start at home to Stanningley.
Meanwhile, Selby Warriors look to return to winning ways in Pennine League division three at home to Greetland All Rounders, who are level on points with them in mid-table. Selby ‘A’ go to Wyke ‘A’ in division seven.
New Earswick have a week off in the championship.