Knights home in on best-ever winning sequence

Knights home in on best-ever winning sequence

Knights home in on best-ever winning sequence

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YORK CITY KNIGHTS will equal a club record if they beat Gateshead Thunder tomorrow in the Kingstone Press Championship - but head coach Gary Thornton says it will count for nothing if his side are not promoted at the end of the campaign.

The Knights entertain the Tynesiders at Huntington Stadium on the hunt for an eighth consecutive win and to further stamp their authority at the top of the table.

Richard Agar's National League Two team of 2004 was the last York side to enjoy such a winning run - starting with an Arriva Trains Cup last-16 tie win over Featherstone on April 25 and ending with defeat in the semi-final at Hull KR on June 27.

They had also seen off Sheffield, Barrow, Gateshead, Swinton, Halifax (in a memorable Arriva Trains Cup quarter-final), Dewsbury and London Skolars.

Thornton's trend setters started their victorious run with a triumph over tomorrow's opponents on home soil on June 15 and have since racked up successes over South Wales Scorpions, Hemel Stags, London Skolars, Oxford, Oldham and Gloucestershire All Golds.

Despite their great run, though, the Knights chief believes much more is still required.

"To be honest, we need to extend the winning run to 12 games as that would mean we’d win the Grand Final," he said.

“It’s great to get a record but it will count for little if we don’t win the Grand Final. It’s an indication of our form and I’m obviously pleased it shows we’re on a good run going into the crucial part of the season, but it won’t mean much if we don’t get the job done.”

The Knights will complete a hat-trick of victories over Thunder with a positive result and Benn Hardcastle, who has been on loan at Gateshead, won't be able to play against his parent club.

But Thornton is wary of an improving side who look set to secure a berth in the play-offs.

"We've talked about dark horses and I think Gateshead could definitely be in that category," he said. "They played pretty well at our place and we had to put in a very good second half performance.

"They have got some good players and they have enhanced that by signing the Kiwi Jordan Meads. We don't know who they will bring in from Hull KR on dual-reg either.

"It will be a tough challenge but, with the form we have been in, we have to concentrate on ourselves. It's going to be a bit stop-start for us over the next few weeks and you really want to be playing at your highest intensity going into the play-offs.

"It is important we make the most of these competitive games and they will be good preparation for play-off football. It's a good time to play Gateshead, and Hunslet next week.

"We want to know whether we are ready for the play-off games to come."

Still without Iain Morrison and Nathan Freer for the encounter, Thornton will also be missing James Ford and could be without Joe Pickets.

Ryan Mallinder is suffering from a jaw injury and will be a game-day decision but Brad Day is back after being called into parent club Castleford's Super League squad last week.

"Ryan has taken a bit of a belt in training," Thornton explained. "There is nothing broken but he has just got a bit of a problem with a nerve."

Thunder coach Stanley Gene, the former Hull KR and Huddersfield stalwart, insists York’s quality should not faze his side.

He said: “There are some things to work on, but we have performed well against York in one half of each game we’ve played so far. We can travel with confidence that if we play to our potential for a full game, we can set down a marker for the play-offs.”

Knights (from): Haynes, Saltonstall, Day, Craig, Dent, Reynolds, Pat Smith, Aldous, Lee, Roche, Ed Smith, Backhouse, Paterson, Brining, Leary, Tonks, Brennan, Minikin and Mallinder.

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