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Exciting finale afoot for York Acorn
“IT’S pretty exciting isn’t it.”
Those were the words of Scott Rhodes as he takes his York Acorn ARLC side to Castleford Panthers on Saturday knowing victory in their last three games of the season would give them the National Conference League division one title – while a single defeat could deny them promotion.
Acorn’s narrow 26-24 win over Milford last week knocked the Marlins out of the promotion race but five teams remain in the hunt for the top three places, including Egremont, whom Acorn face on the last day of term.
The Blue and Golds currently lie third, but with games in hand on the teams above them, while Egremont are fifth but with even more games in hand.
“If we win our games, we’re champions, and that’s what we want to do. We wouldn’t mind going up in second or third but we want to win it. But there are other teams thinking the same. It’s so tight up there, but the ball’s in our court.
“We’ve got a tricky fixture at Millom next week and then Egremont at home, and if Egremont win all their games, they win the league. It’s pretty exciting.”
Asked if Acorn wanted to guarantee promotion before looking at the title, Rhodes countered: “If we don’t win all three of our games, we might not go up. Whether it’s for the title or promotion, we’ve got to win all our games. That’s how tight it is.”
He added: “But we’re not looking past Cas Panthers this weekend.
“They haven’t been doing particularly well this year and, with us coming off another great win, on paper it should be easy. But we’re not going to take our foot off the gas.
“We’ve got to win three games out of three to win the league. We’ve talked about consistency and discipline in training and that’s what we’re looking for again this weekend.”
Rhodes faces a selection headache as brothers Nic and Danny Caldwell are both available this week to bolster a pack which performed admirably without them against Milford, but Joe Budd, used so effectively as a pivot after being switched from full-back, is unavailable for two weeks. This will see Rhodes shuffling his half-back/hooker/loose-forward combinations.
As for his playmakers, Antony Chilton came in for particular praise after his late penalty – his fifth goal of the game – saw Acorn take the two points last week.
“Milford are a very well-drilled team, with a smart kicking game,” said Rhodes of that encounter. “I don’t think we played particularly well - we made too many mistakes, especially at the wrong end of the field, and they capitalised on it. We could’ve made it easier for ourselves, but in the end Chillo kicked us out of trouble.”
• Montpellier, the club that recruited York Acorn’s Jordan Hyde, Antony Chilton and Chris Rushworth at the end of August only for the trio to return to England last month, have withdrawn from the French Elite League after only two games of the new season.
The club are reportedly set to go into liquidation. Hyde, Chilton and Rushworth aborted their stay in France citing broken promises.