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Defeat not an option as York Acorn fight National Conference relegation
10:28am Thursday 19th September 2013 in Sport
York Acorn ARLC travel to bottom side Myton Warriors on Saturday knowing anything but victory will leave their survival hopes in tatters, writes Josh Luckhurst.
Acorn are four points adrift of safety in the National Conference League premier division – and staring at relegation 12 months after promotion – with three games of the campaign to go.
However, this weekend they face the one team below them in the table, a team they despached 52-24 at home in May, and, while boss Scott Rhodes expects a different proposition this time, he is optimistic of taking the spoils from a crucial four-pointer.
“We beat them at home easily but we have a few injuries and we are away from home this time so it will be fairly even game – but I’m still fairly confident.”
Injuries have been Acorn’s downfall this season, as Rhodes explained: “I was counting back and we have had two broken arms, two broken jaws, a fractured cheekbone, dislocated shoulders and a snapped ACL (anterior cruciate ligament).”
It will be a case of déjà vu for the head coach this Saturday as he contends with a selection dilemma.
He said: “Arran Thompson is out as he has too much fluid around a knee, Kevin Brayshaw has a fractured cheekbone and Callum Hannigan has dislocated a shoulder so we will have to bring in some under-18s, but we have done that all year.”
Rhodes still believes his side has a fighting chance of winning the final three games of the season – despite facing current leaders Thatto Heath Crusaders in the final game, following next week’s visit of fifth-bottom East Hull.
“There have only been two games where we have been beaten easily – we’ve been in with a shout in all the matches,” he said.
“We have beaten Thatto Heath this year but we’ve struggled with our finishing sometimes and that has been the difference in some games.”
Meanwhile, Heworth host Crosfields in division three looking to end their season on a high note as they build for better times.
Despite a run of one win in 11 matches, leaving the Villagers third from bottom, head coach Tim Rumford is confident his side can grab these last two points in front of their home support against a side three places above them.
“We have had a bit of an up-and-down season this year,” he said. “We had a great start with a few good wins early in the season.
“We have a strong core of quality players now, who can take this club forward and I am also looking to bring players in.”
Rumford feels some of his team perhaps took division three lightly after demotion to the new tier, underestimating the clubs that have come into the league when the campaign began.
He said: “Some of the players began to realise it was a tough league and drifted away and no longer play for the club, so that’s a shame.
“We’re talking to some players who are local and looking to play so hopefully they can make Heworth the club I believe they should be – this club are the sleeping giants of the National Conference League.”
However, Rumford says Heworth can take heart from some of their performances this year, particularly against this weekend’s opponents, when they were edged 28-20 in July.
“We were looking to kick downfield when we fumbled it and from there they scored and then scored straight after, so that was disappointing as I felt we could have won,” he said.
The Villagers go into the season finale with second-top try-scorer Jonny Payne and fellow forward Richard Rogers returning to the fold alongside Paul Thompson, who is available after illness.
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