NEW Earswick All Blacks ARLC will be without seven first-teamers for the visit of Queensbury on Saturday – but player-boss Jack Stearman is confident a change in tactics will bring a third straight Pennine League championship victory.
The club have also suffered a blow off the field as one of those wins – against Eastmoor Dragons – has now been expunged after the Dragons quit the league, the two points lost dropping the All Blacks back down two places to third from bottom.
Stearman admits replacing the absent half-back pairing of Liam Gargan and Tom Holmes will provide arguably his biggest concern this weekend, but he still thinks picking up points to climb back up the standings is inevitable given the squad at his disposal.
“We’re good enough to beat anyone in this league,” he said.
“Half-back is an issue on Saturday but we’ll just change the game-plan slightly. We’ve a big pack at the weekend and we’ll play through them.
“Everybody has to chip in and do some extra work but the squad is good enough to get the result we require.”
Full-back Jack Hodgson and Adam Caddie, who is seen as more of a centre by Stearman, will fill the playmaking roles, while Sean Malarkey, back from university, will be a natural replacement for the former in the number one shirt. Prop Liam Davidson is also back from uni and adds to the size in the pack.
Pete Ritchie, Luke Morton, Steve Clarke, Jamie Norris and Reece Blake join Gargan and Holmes on a weekend New Year jolly in Dusseldorf.
Stearman, meanwhile, hopes last Saturday’s get-together will bolster team spirit.
All Blacks’ game at Chequerfield was postponed following the death of stalwart Dennis Harrison, one of the club’s founders.
The players had a two-hour training session followed by a few beers with other club members and friends in memory of Harrison. All Blacks’ famous 2001 Challenge Cup match against Swinton was played on the screen in the clubhouse.
Stearman said: “It was good for us as a team to get together after the Christmas break and it has left the lads hungry for success.”
As reported by The Press, Harrison, 77, died of a heart attack in the early hours of New Year’s Eve while on holiday in Benidorm.
His funeral will take place on Friday, January 17, at 3pm at York Crematorium, Bishopthorpe Road, to be followed by a wake for family and friends at the Holiday Inn Hotel on Tadcaster Road. All are welcome.
Selby Warriors entertain Doncaster Toll Bar in a bottom-versus-top clash in division one – having received another blow to their hopes of escaping the drop.
The Warriors have seen two points taken away as their walkover win against Dodworth has now been expunged as Dodworth have left the league.
The fact they have had two more points deducted for failing to fulfil a fixture leaves them three points from safety. Their defeat to Odsal Sedbergh last week was also their eighth loss in ten outings but the manner of this defeat at least brought cause for optimism.
They will need to overturn the formbook this Saturday, though, with Toll Bar by comparison defeated only once in eight games.
Promotion-seeking Sherburn Bears go to Wetherby Bulldogs in division five, and Selby ‘A’, cheered by their big win over King Cross Park ‘A’ in which a trio of 16-year-olds made fine debuts, visit Cowling Harlequins in division seven.