York Acorn ARLC boss Scott Rhodes says his side need to bounce back quickly from disappointing late defeat in their season opener – but they will have to do so without a stack of key men, writes Will Jackson.
Rhodes’ side threw away a 16-6 lead in the first game of the National Conference League division one season, against a Normanton team many expect to be among the frontrunners for promotion to amateur rugby league’s elite tier.
The Blue and Golds now go into Saturday’s game at Shaw Cross Sharks with Andy Gargan, Davey Burns and Arran Thompson all ruled out, while captain Tommy Hill remains a long-term absentee and Jordan Myers is doubtful with a shoulder injury.
It has left Rhodes with tough selection decisions as he admits that the squad is struggling to cope with the injuries and other commitments. But he does not want to leave it much longer to get off the mark in the league.
He said: “We’re very disappointed about last week. We played very well until the last ten minutes but we had the chances to win the game and we didn’t take them. I can have no complaints with the result as the opposition played well.
“We have to bounce back with a win this week. Confidence is low but we’ve got to hang in there and try to win every game.”
Asked about this weekend’s opponents, Shaw Cross, he added: “It is a very strong league and there are not many weak teams.
“I have played against them before and it will be a rough game, it won’t be easy, but we need to get a win under our belts.”
Heworth ARLFC will be expecting a much tougher test this Saturday as they come up against a Blackbrook side considered to be one of the favourites for the National Conference League division three title.
After a convincing 38-6 win over minnows Peterlee last week, head coach Tim Rumford has conceded this week’s fixture will be a different proposition altogether.
He said: “We’re definitely playing against more seasoned opposition. They have a lot of experienced players and some with professional experience so it will be a much tougher test.”
Blackbrook were the team who so nearly shocked York City Knights in the Challenge Cup last year, and they did a comprehensive league double over Heworth in their debut NCL season.
But Rumford added: “If we perform to our full potential, and defend tough in the game, then there is no reason why we can’t win.
“If we keep it tight going into the last ten to 15 minutes, I think we can grab a win.”
The Villagers look set to welcome back Adam Withington, but star man Danny Allan suffered a rib injury last week and is rated only 50-50 for Saturday, with Rumford saying he would not risk anybody who wasn’t fully fit at this stage of the season.
The Blackbrook game is Heworth’s first home fixture of term and Rumford added: “Playing at home gives us extra incentive to go out there and pull off a great win.”