YORK Lokomotive ARLC may be big underdogs but they will visit New Earswick All Blacks on Saturday in good heart and hopeful of pulling off a shock.
The two sides meet in the first tie of this year's York & District Cup at White Rose Avenue (2.30pm) vying for a place in the semi-finals against York Acorn. The other semi-final also takes place this weekend as Heworth - fielding an 'A' team - face Selby Warriors.
All Blacks are in buoyant mood after they toppled promotion-chasers Chequerfield to make it seven wins from their last eight Pennine League championship matches.
Development club Lokomotive, on the other hand, are yet to play competitively this year as their Yorkshire Men's League division two campaign doesn't start for another five weeks, and they lost 28-8 at Normanton 'A' in a friendly last week.
But Lokos spokesman Matthew Chapman said: "We're really looking forward to it. We're quite confident we've got a good selection and, with All Blacks this weekend and Acorn to come for the winners, we want to test ourselves against the best of amateur rugby league in York.
"Normanton's team was a strong one and it was a good test for us, and there were more positives than negatives to come out of it."
All Blacks player-coach Jack Stearman is without old head Carl Barrow and Steve Clarke and is planning to blood more youngsters such is the confidence in their ranks at present - though he added they would still go strong.
"I've said to the under-18s players in the open-age squad that they might be playing to get an opportunity," he said. "The ones who've played so far have done well.
"But we're not taking it lightly. It's a competition we want to win.
"We beat Lokos 66-12 back in our pre-season in September time and we've improved a lot since then. But we expect Lokos to be better too."
The Lokos, meanwhile, have brought forward their first game of their league season, at home to cross-city rivals Heworth 'A', by seven days to April 26, as they are away the following weekend competing in the Majorca Beach Rugby 7s tournament.
Selby Warriors have already been relegated from Pennine League division one with one game to go but will be looking for solace in the York Cup against a Heworth 'A' side whose summer season starts late next month.
Selby Warriors 'A', meanwhile, host Sherburn Bears in the Selby Plate Cup semi-finals.