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York City Knights boss Gary Thornton in rallying cry
GARY THORNTON is demanding his York City Knights replicate their home form on away days – starting tomorrow against a team who have yet to win this term.
Thornton has warned that hosts Keighley (3pm) will be like a wounded animal, going all out to break their Kingstone Press Championship duck after six straight defeats.
And he says his team must cut out the inconsistency that has blighted an otherwise encouraging start to his reign at Huntington Stadium if they are to keep the Cougars on a downer and keep themselves in the play-off places.
“I’ve been pleased with our home form, but we need to take that away from home as well,” said Thornton. “Keighley will be up for this. They’ve probably targeted this one and we need to go there with a really professional attitude and defend the same way as we did last week.”
Last Sunday brought a 48-6 win over Workington while the Cougars were crashing 52-10 at Featherstone. But York have picked up only one point on their travels so far this term, and only then thanks to two tries in the last two minutes in the season opener at Whitehaven.Thornton said: “When you look at where we’ve been away from home, they’ve been pretty tough. We’ve been to Batley and Sheffield, two of the leading teams, which are never easy places to go, and we were at Whitehaven for what was our first hit-out with the dual-reg lads in.
“There have therefore been reasons why we haven’t played as well away from home and the quality of opposition is probably something to do with that. Hopefully, after those games, we will be better prepared to go to Keighley and get a result.”
Any attempts to bring in reinforcements for the upcoming busy period have so far proved fruitless, although prop Luke Stenchion at last seems to be in contention to make his debut following his ongoing ankle problem. Thornton was also going to give second-row star Sam Scott as long as possible to prove his fitness after missing the last two games with a back problem.
The head coach says he would normally stick with a winning team but is wary that props Matty Nicholson, who is playing with a shoulder problem until going under the knife after Easter, Adam Sullivan, who will miss the next three games after tomorrow to undergo a procedure on his troublesome knee, and Austin Bell, who has a number of niggles, are not fully fit, while back-rower Ed Smith is a doubt with a dead leg.
Aaron Lyons is one who definitely makes way, due to a knee injury suffered against Workington.
Thornton, who has named a provisional 19-man squad, dependent on how players shape up after training last night, said: “I’m mindful some are not 100 per cent and we might be limited with the amount of game-time we get out of them. We’ve got to be careful we don’t go into the game with too many fragile bodies in one go.
“On paper it (the squad) looks good but it can easily change if Ed Smith and Sam Scott don’t make it.
“I’m a big believer in if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. If everyone was fit and well we’d usually go with the same 17. That said, with the form Sam Scott was in before his injury, should he be left out if fit?
“We’ve got a hectic period coming up and we have to look at things a bit more long-term.”
Knights: from Carr, Elliott, Haynes, Briscoe, Latus, Nicklas, Presley, Aldous, Lee, Potter, Smith, Hadley, Nicholson, Iley, Brining, Sullivan, Bell, Stenchion, Scott.
Referee: Jamie Leahy (Dewsbury).