YORK RUFC face a “defining month” in their season, according to head coach Sean Bass.
The Clifton Parkers, fourth in the Yorkshire One table, return from the Christmas break with a tough trip to second-placed Dinnington tomorrow (2.15pm).
It’s the start of a run of fixtures which sees Bass’s squad take on three of the division’s top five teams and he is under no illusions about how important the next few weeks are to York’s promotion prospects.
“We know what the score is,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it was must-win but it is a defining game for York – one of three or four we have to play.
“We have Dinnington, Doncaster and Wath to play, along with North Ribblesdale, and they will be four hard games.
“If we win them all we will be in a good position. We’ve got to try to get something out of the game against Dinnington. They are unbeaten at home this season. They are a cracking side and they are good with the boot.”
Alex Nixon continues to be absent for York but Billy Cakaunitabua is back.
“We are looking for a performance from him,” added Bass. “It’s good to have him back in the side. He has York written right through him.”
The Christmas break has allowed Selby to recover from a slew of injuries ahead of their trip to Wath-on-Dearne.
“Our performances were improving before Christmas and we had started to build some momentum,” said head coach Richard Nicholson.
“Now we have to start again but it’s also nice to get back to a situation where we can have a proper selection meeting and have some depth.
“That’s what we had last year when we were really lucky with injuries. Wath is a tough place to go. It’s always a physical game against them and we have a lot of respect for them.
“It will provide an indication of where we are in the league and whether we can challenge at the top.
“We want to be competitive and see where we end up.”
Josh Cruise, who has struggled with a groin strain in the last couple of months, could be back in the first-team squad but is more likely to have a run-out in the seconds.
Pocklington’s North One East campaign resumes when they entertain Northern at Percy Road.
When the sides met in Newcastle in September Pock ran out 42-20 winners.
It was convincing in the end, but this weekend’s visitors, who had gone 12-3 down inside a quarter of an hour, only trailed 20-15 ten minutes into the second half.
Northern wilted in the heat and Pocklington stepped up a gear with four late touchdowns to pull clear.
Though Northern are 13th in the table, to Pocklington’s fourth, the two clubs face off on the back of good results in their last league encounters – Pock digging deep to win 11-10 at Crossleyans, while Northern overcame second-placed Huddersfield 19-8.
Malton & Norton also return to North One East duty on the road at Wheatley Hills.
York RI, meanwhile, kick off the new year with a home game at New Lane against Sheffield Oaks in Yorkshire Four.