KNIGHTS boss Gary Thornton insists his side need to to treat Oxford with “plenty of respect”, writes Peter Martini.
York’s last outing against an expansion club was a 76-0 thrashing of South Wales, which maintained in style their 100 per cent Championship One record.
However, Oxford, despite two losses in three outings so far, are unlikely to be such pushovers, and it remains to be seen how the Knights, with a much-changed team, are affected by the cup loss to Swinton - their first defeat of term.
The visitors are coached by the experienced Tony Benson, the former Oldham boss, and they have a few other former Roughyeds in their ranks such as Chris Clarke and Dave Ellison, while ex-Knight Sam Blaney is also now on their books. Among their dangermen is full-back Sean Morris, a former Oxford University rugby union Blue, who has been interesting London Broncos.
Said Thornton: “They’re a threat. They’ll be well-organised and well-drilled by Tony Benson and they’ve got some experienced rugby league players in there, more so than Gloucester and South Wales, who had a few more from rugby union.”
Former Roughyed Valu Bentley (ankle), the French loose-forward, is Oxford’s main absentee, while Glenn Osborn (ankle) is also out.
Benson said: “We’ve had two weeks off now and that hasn’t helped at all, but we’ve just got to crack on.
“We won the second half against Hunslet, and if we can play to that level then we’ll be pretty competitive with York. If we don’t play to that level, we’ll be in trouble. But it will be a very interesting test as we want to test ourselves against the best.”
Oxford captain Alex Thompson said: “There is no pressure on us to be honest and the pressure will all be on them.
“We need to be focused on our job both individually and as a team. If we do that then I believe we can cause a surprise up there.
“We are miles better than we have shown so far this season, and it is only a matter of time before we click and give someone a good hiding.”