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Match preview: York City Knights v Hunslet Hawks
10:15am Saturday 17th August 2013 in Sport
HUNSLET boss Barry Eaton reckons both York City Knights and his Hawks side have been competitive enough this year to deserve to stay in an ever-improving Kingstone Press Championship.
However, he admits the losers of tomorrow’s clash between the arch-rivals will have the odds heavily stacked against them beating the drop to the so-called league of death.
Eaton’s men finally ended a 13-game losing streak last week when defeating Workington 22-16 to leapfrog York and off the foot of the table.
However, they picked up bonus points in the preceding eight matches, showing they have never been easy-beats. York, for their part, have won six games – just three fewer than a Doncaster side entrenched in the play-off places.
“The competitive nature of the Championship this year is such that teams like ourselves and York have shown they are good enough to be in this league,” said Eaton, who was wary that Championship One, now comprising several expansion clubs, represented a notable drop in standards.
“The Championship is getting better and better. The standard has gone through the roof in my opinion. There is far more quality in the Championship now.
“York and Hunslet are better now than two or three years ago but we’re still down the bottom.”
“Having said that, can you deny a new (Championship One) club or the likes of Rochdale or Oldham the opportunity to earn promotion? The standard of Championship One needs to get better overall and be more consistent. But then teams like Oldham, Rochdale and North Wales Crusaders will think they could hold their own in the Championship.”
Asked if he would relish a season in Championship One, he said: “No.
“It’s not a division you want to be in.
“We’re in the Championship playing bloody good teams and we want to stay there. You’d prefer to be fighting to stay in this division than be playing in that division.”
Hunslet remain in deep danger, and face title-challengers Sheffield and Featherstone in their last two games, making three points tomorrow even more important.
York go to Workington and Doncaster, in their game in hand, before finishing at home to Batley.
Said Eaton: “Mathematically it won’t be all over but the odds will be stacked very much against the team that loses (tomorrow).
“The teams above have tough games as well but for ourselves or York defeat (tomorrow) would make things all the more difficult.”
He added: “We’d been very close to a win for the last eight weeks – we got bonus points in every game but without turning those close games into wins. We’ve not been far away but it was important we turned those close games into a win, and we did that last week.
“It’s probably going to be nervy and both teams will be anxious. I think the team that comes out on top will be the one that handles that pressure best.”
Hunslet, as in recent years, could field up to eight ex-Knights in their 17, and Eaton accepted that could “add some spice”.
“I’m not sure if it will make a big difference,” he said. “These days there aren’t many teams you come up against without a player or two having previously played for that club.
“But it might add a bit of spice to this one. There is some rivalry between the two clubs with battles for promotion a few years ago and then battles to avoid relegation. There is a rivalry there but I think that will get put aside because both teams will be looking more at getting the all-important win.”
James Davies and Michael Haley are available for Hunslet while Liam McAvoy is the one likely dual-registration inclusion from Leeds.
HAWKS in focus
Last year: ninth.
Coach: Barry Eaton.
HUNSET’S only wins last season came against York, with whom they were cut adrift at the foot of the table. They began this year with a similar squad, bolstered by the returns from the Knights of Waine Pryce and James Houston, swelling a sizeable contingent of ex-Knights in their ranks – more recently augmented by Chris Clough from Gloucestershire All Golds. James and Thomas Coyle have also arrived this summer from Workington and on loan from Leigh, giving Danny Grimshaw support in the playmaking department. Strength in depth was always likely to be an issue, albeit aided by some good dual-reg recruits from Leeds.
Squad for tomorrow: from Stuart Kain, Waine Pryce, Liam Welham, Lee Brickwood, Lee Mapals, Thomas Coyle, James Coyle, Andy Yates, David March, James Houston, Tommy Haughey, John Oakes, Danny Grimshaw, Jimmy Watson, Luke Menzies, Luke Haigh, Chris Clough, James Davies, Michael Haley, Liam McAvoy.
One to watch: David March, a character York know well, still has tricks and knowhow in his locker as long as age doesn’t catch up with him.
Partnership club: Leeds Rhinos.
Prediction: York’s arch-rivals lack spending power and face a fight to avoid relegation. Either way, expect banter aplenty amid a love-hate relationship between Knights and Hawks fans.
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