Play-making trio in for Knights cup clash

York City Knights’ Pat Smith, pictured touching down, is back in the starting line up to face Swinton.            Picture: Gordon Clayton

York City Knights’ Pat Smith, pictured touching down, is back in the starting line up to face Swinton. Picture: Gordon Clayton

First published in Sport
Last updated

GARY THORNTON has one way of resolving his half-back dilemma for tomorrow's hotly-anticipated Tetley's Challenge Cup tie - by fielding all three of them.

Pat Smith, Jonny Presley and Benn Hardcastle have all staked claims for the two play-maker roles as Thornton's York City Knights side go to Championship outfit Swinton Lions (2pm) aiming to again upset the apple cart and continue their winning start to the season.

Three, however, doesn't go into two, meaning each of the trio has sat out one game so far this term, with the head coach advocating rotation. Smith was the one omitted for the 76-0 thrashing of South Wales last time out.

Tomorrow, though, Thornton is likely to revert to the option that worked against arch-rivals Hunslet - starting with Smith and Presley and launching "match-winner" Hardcastle off the bench.

The plan is not set in stone, but Thornton said: "It could be similar to what happened at Hunslet.

"Pat and Jonny have been going really well and Benn played well against South Wales - he's got good skills and match-winning qualities.

"It's a good option to have one on the bench and switch Pat to hooker when we give Jack Lee a breather. Than again, Jack has been going big minutes this year. He's got himself really fit and he can go long minutes, so it seems a waste of an interchange to bring him off when he's playing well.

"We have some decisions to make but it's great to have these options."

Another option is young Harry Carter as replacement hooker. He too impressed against South Wales while he also tore a good Leigh reserves team to shreds in the opening half-hour of the second string's victory nine days ago.

Carter was named in the reserves squad that goes to Oldham today but is more likely to travel tomorrow, if only as back-up.

Thornton explained: "We now have three games in 13 days so it's likely we'll use squad rotation in this period. I've been delighted with Harry - he's been superb and he will be featuring at least once in the three games. Tomorrow might not be the right time but we'll see. He was outstanding against a decent Leigh team."

Aside from Smith's return, Thornton will otherwise field a line-up similar to that which hammered the Scorpions 76-0, though Jake Joynt is also pushing for a recall after he was rested that day.

Greg Minikin (hamstring) is not yet ready to return so fellow teenager James Morland continues at centre. Only Kriss Brining is on the long-term injury list.

Thornton says his side will travel in great heart - but reckons they will still be underdogs, despite their winning run in Championship One and victory over Championship side Whitehaven in the last round. Swinton have the same number of points as Haven, having played a game more.

"We are underdogs because we're playing a team in a higher division, plus they have a good win against (Championship One side) Gateshead in the cup, putting 66 points past them," he reasoned.

"They also beat Barrow in their last home game.

"I saw them last Sunday at Featherstone but it was difficult to judge because they had five Warrington dual-reg players who won't be included this weekend.

"I've been impressed with what I've seen, though, both then and on DVD. They will be strong opposition.

"But we're hoping we might catch them. Training has been fantastic and confidence in the camp is high. We have tough selection decisions over the next week or so because people are performing really well in training, in reserve games and in first-team matches.

"Swinton might be thinking they will have an easy ride because they're facing a team from a lower division but, if so, we'll look to shock them."

Knights: from Haynes, Elliott, Ford, Morland, B Dent, Presley, Hardcastle, P Smith, Aldous, Lee, Bell, E Smith, Golden, Paterson, Joynt, Morrison, Mallinder, Freer, Carter.

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree