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York Acorn boosted for last promotion push
SCOTT RHODES is optimistic last week’s confidence-boosting romp will set his York Acorn ARLC side up for a successful last push for promotion.
The Blue and Golds are right in the mix as one of six teams with mathematical chances of getting into the top three in National Conference League division one, and they can improve their promotion odds significantly on Saturday by ending the hopes of their visitors to Thanet Road, Milford Marlins.
Acorn lie fourth after their 62-4 thrashing of Stanningley, four points off top spot but only one point off the promotion places and with at least two games in hand on the three teams above them. Acorn have four games left to play.
Milford lie fifth but have only two games left and need to win both and hope several of their rivals lose their remaining fixtures if they are to go up.
Rhodes said: “I don’t think they’ve got a lot to play for. I think they’re out of it now. Either way it’s all down to us. We take every game as it comes and concentrate on our performance.
“When we play well, including in the big games, we usually win. We’re looking for the same kind of performance as last week. If we play well, I’m sure we will get something from the game.”
“Confidence-wise it was good. In recent weeks we’ve been working a lot on the speed of the play-the-ball and controlling the ruck when we haven’t got the ball. One of the factors why we did so well last week was that we did that pretty well.
“We also talk a lot about attack and getting bodies into the line and we did that well too. It shows we can put a lot of points on teams when we do what we can. We just need to do it more consistently.”
In another boost, Rhodes should have prop Adam Endersby back after lengthy absence with a thumb injury while fellow forward Nic Caldwell’s six-match ban is now up, although it’s not yet known if we will be available. Joe Porter also returns, with Rhodes saying: “It’s a good time to be getting players back.”
Conversely, Great Britain Lions international Leigh Rientoul’s future is up in the air, with Rhodes having been informed the player could be hanging up his boots. Rientoul has been named in the Lions squad for their match against touring Aussies South Sydney Juniors yet has been in and out of the Acorn team all year, with his last game being the loss to Dudley Hill on September 15.
Rhodes said: “We’ve had to cover for players all season because of injuries and unavailability and we’ve done that. It’s amateur rugby and players don’t have to play if they don’t want to. We want players who are hungry to play and if he doesn’t want to play it’s no problem.”
It is the Super League Grand Final on Saturday so the majority of the amateur rugby league game takes a break for the weekend. Heworth have no fixture in division two, while likewise there are no games for Pennine League sides New Earswick All Blacks, Selby Warriors and their respective ‘A’ teams.
The break probably doesn’t come at a great time for Selby, who are on a high after their best display of their new division three campaign saw them win 20-14 at Stainland Stags last Saturday, ending the hosts’ unbeaten start.
The Warriors did so despite missing nine first-team regulars due to work commitments and injury.
Captain Mark Hanson, who led by example throughout, barged over to put the Warriors ahead early on and they defended the lead for 25 minutes, despite being camped on their own line thanks to a high penalty count, until the Stags scored from a kick to the corner.
Matthew Irving sped in for the try of the match after good handling across the field, and Jimmy Hanson crossed under the posts just before half-time and converted for a 14-4 Warriors lead.
Selby started the second half strongly, despite playing up the slope, but Stainland scored a dubious try against the run of play.
Arron Sharp settled Selby nerves with a try from 20 metres out, Jimmy Hanson adding the extras, and, although the Warriors, who had tackled tirelessly all game, were breached again late on, they deserved their victory. Connor Smith and Zennon Horracks were outstanding in a fine team show.