A LACK of continuity is to blame for York RUFC lounging in the bottom half of the Yorkshire One table, reckons head coach Lee Denham.
The Clifton Parkers get the second half of the season under way with a trip to Bradford Salem tomorrow in a tie the Shipton Road chief is convinced his side can win.
Sitting in tenth place in the table, with five wins and eight losses, Denham says their performance so far "could be better".
But he believes their travails have been down not being able to select a settled side - something he is hoping will change for the rest of the campaign.
“We’ve been using too many players this season and although the commitment in training has been high it hasn’t transferred onto the pitch,” Denham. "I’m beginning to see improvements in the side but they aren’t playing how I like to play just yet. The scrummage, attack and defending all need work and it’s acted as a learning curve for the players."
York enjoyed a more successful campaign last year and Denham has made no excuses for their current plight.
But he added: “Often we will have players unavailable for various reasons but it’s the same for most sides in this division. You are kidding yourself if you think this is an easy league, it’s incredibly hard and every week teams are dealing with the same problems.”
He has been able to rely on some shining lights and, in particular, picked out the versatile Jon Dawes for special praise.
“Dawes is not a number ten, and he’s told us that, but he’s been playing there and has really stepped up," Denham explained. "Sam Lang has also been great in the second row as has Chris Peace who is a fantastic centre.”
Another issue facing Denham’s side is the lack of depth at scrum-half. With both Ben Johnson and Matty Hargreaves unavailable, Denham said they are dealing with the repercussions.
Despite their struggles so far, though, he is still confident the club can enjoy a strong second stanza.
“I’m hoping we can kick on in the second half and keep our targets on track," he said. "Bradford Salem have lost some players and will be a different team to the one we faced earlier this season (when York lost 27-15).
“It will be a tough game but it’s a game we believe we can get a win from. If we go there with a good mental attitude and if our captain leads from the front then we should get the five points.”
After their Christmas and New Year break, Pocklington return to North One East league action with a daunting trip to Doncaster Phoenix.
Phoenix are riding high at the top of the division after their landlords, full-time professional outfit Doncaster Knights, decided they wanted to help them get into the national leagues.
Pocklington will travel in good heart after their Boxing Day run out in the traditional clash with Old Pocklingtonians, which gave most of the squad good game time.
And, while they went down in the earlier encounter with Phoenix in September, Pocklington pushed them all the way - scoring four tries in their 46-29 defeat.
Selby will look to kickstart their push up the Yorkshire One table when they host Hullensians but York RI don't return to Yorkshire Four action for another week.