YORK Acorn ALRC boss Leigh Paul-Rientoul has hailed the scoring form of Ryan Gallacher - and believes he could be a key man out wide as the Blue and Golds face a tough trip to Underbank Rangers.
Gallacher, 24, was easily Acorn's top try scorer last season with 16 in 21 appearances in their relegation season in the National Conference League premier division, and he began life in division one with a hat-trick from centre during the opening-day win over Lock Lane.
That victory was marred by a red card for strapping winger Josh Thompson for dissent and, with the team already low on outside-backs, it means Gallacher's form could be even more important, even if Thompson remains available this weekend.
"Ryan has backed it up from last season," said Paul-Rientoul. “He got 20-odd tries (in all competitions) to be our top scorer and he’s started off with three good tries last week.
“We’re having trouble with wingers at the moment and Thommo, our 7ft tall winger, got himself sent off for backchat so we might be struggling even more soon. A few more tries from Ryan therefore wouldn't go amiss."
He added: “I haven’t heard yet about any ban (for Thompson) so he might be available this weekend but, even so, getting sent off is not what we needed.”
Paul-Rientoul reckoned the team's discipline as a whole, and their reaction times, needed to improve this week – although he was quick to point out that the 36-22 victory over Lock Lane was a marked difference to 12 months ago when they were hammered by the same opposition, again on the opening day of term.
“What let us down a bit last week was our discipline and our reaction times – we weren’t reacting quick enough to loose balls and we were waiting for the referee’s whistle too much,” he said.
“However, compared to last year when we got beat 66-4 at Lock Lane, starting this season off with a win is great.
“Lock Lane’s team has changed a lot but even so it was a big improvement for us.
“They are coached by (former Super League star) Francis Maloney and are a new young team so will get better as they gel.”
Underbank, meanwhile, are coached by former Knights second-row Richard Knight and last week won 24-22 against a Shaw Cross side which included ex-Knights boss and former Super League star Paul March along with his old Keighley Cougars team-mate Ash Lindsay, both of whom have now retired from the pro game.
Said Paul-Rientoul: “Underbank have quite a strong side so it’ll be interesting to see what happens on Saturday. I believe they’re a youthful team as well but they had a good win over Shaw Cross.
“Apparently those two signings (March and Lindsay) were the difference for Shaw Cross so Underbank may have won more comfortably otherwise, which shows they’re a good side.
“It’s tough at their place, too, up a big hill usually in awful conditions, though that might suit us this week with our shortage of wingers.”
Acorn also had to run without Jordan Potter last week, after he sprained an ankle in training. It was meant to be the forward's long-awaited first game back after surgery last year.
Karl Harton was called up from the ‘A’ team but is unavailable this weekend. However, Jack Byrnes, who missed the Lock Lane game after becoming a dad a few days earlier, is back in contention this Saturday.