YORK Acorn coach Leigh Paul-Rientoul says Normanton Knights could be a on a ‘revenge mission’ tomorrow at Thanet Road.
The two clubs meet for the first time since Acorn’s victory in the National Conference League division one play-off final 18 months ago.
Normanton had narrowly missed out on automatic promotion and were regarded as firm favourites to beat Acorn for a place in amateur rugby’s top flight.
Acorn upset the odds, however, and won 30-22 at Widnes’ Select Security Stadium but were relegated after just one season in the premier division.
“I have no doubt that Normanton will want to get one over us for what happened in the play-off final,” said Paul-Rientoul. “It is going to be tough but we often rise to the occasion against the better teams.”
Normanton also missed out on promotion last season but are currently lying third in the table just one point behind leaders Underbank Rangers.
Acorn are sixth but go into the game on the back of consecutive wins against Ince Rose Bridge and Blackbrook.
The absence of leading try scorer Ryan Gallacher for the next three games is a major loss for Acorn who are also without the suspended Karl Harton and injured duo Tom Hill and Elliott Bulmer.
Gallacher is travelling overseas and could be replaced by Arron McBride who scored on his debut two weeks ago against Ince Rose Bridge.
“Arron is a young kid who has been playing at Gateshead Academy,” said Paul-Rientoul. “He contacted me asking if he could join us and narrowly missed out on playing last week because we had so many players available.”
Second rower Reece Rushworth has also been challenged to fill the gap on the scoresheet after impressing with a hat-trick of tries against Blackbrook.
Rushworth is the younger brother of Joe Porter who now plays for York Knights after an impressive spell at Thanet Road.
“Reece was a bit hit-and-miss last year with his commitment,” said Paul-Rientoul. “He went away and did a bit of travelling but this season he is a lot more committed and doesn’t miss many training sessions.
“He is improving every week and was man of the match against Blackbrook. He is a strong runner and a good defender but we need him to do as much running as he does tackling. He is taking that on board and let’s see if he can do it against the tougher teams?”
York Acorn ‘A’ visit New Earswick All Blacks in Yorkshire Men’s League division one.
The All Blacks are level on points with leaders Heworth while Acorn are still without a point at the bottom of the table.