New Earswick All Blacks head to second-placed Chequerfield

York Press: Liam Gargan Liam Gargan

NEW Earswick All Blacks ARLC coach Jack Stearman reckons now is as good a time as any to test the team’s new-found form with a trip to high-riding Chequerfield.

Saturday’s hosts (kick off 2pm) begin the new year lying second in the Pennine League championship division.

All Blacks, meanwhile, ended a poor run with two wins before Christmas to lift them to fifth. Although the festive break has interrupted momentum, Stearman remains upbeat going into 2014.

Asked if the holiday had not come at the best time, Stearman said: “With amateur rugby league, there’s always a good time to have a break. People can have family time which isn’t always possible when you commit to rugby.

“It’s been a good time and the players got together for a training session last Saturday which went well, with everyone agreeing to push together for 2014.

“The break is the same for Chequerfield and this time is as good as any to play them.

“We know we can beat anyone in this division. We only lost by four points at (leaders) Methley and were unlucky. Those two wins came at a good time for us. We want to develop a winning mentality and hopefully they will have helped.”

Stearman added: “I’ve never played Chequerfield myself but the lads say they’re a real tough team – very physical. We’ve got to match them in that regard.

“We had two good results heading into the new year and we need to carry that on, and where better than at Chequerfield.”

Utility back Sean Malarkey is home from university so could play while Luke Morton might get some game time on his return from a broken leg suffered on the first day of the season, but playmaker Liam Gargan is a doubt with a knee complaint.

Stearman will also have to ponder his selection aware that half a dozen players fly off for a weekend away next week, when Queensbury visit White Rose Avenue.

“I may put one or two in this week to get them ready for Queensbury,” he added.

Talking of breaks, Selby Warriors host mid-table Odsal Sedbergh in what will be their first game in division one since November 23. In December, they got a walkover win as Dodworth resigned from the league but they then conceded a game to Brotherton, leaving them bottom at new year.

The Warriors did receive a boost in the meantime, though, as former player and head coach Paul Helstrip, who led the Warriors on an unprecedented run of success, returned to the ranks to help out present player-boss Matt Stevenson.

Selby Warriors ‘A’, who also conceded their last match, host King Cross Park looking for points to lift themselves in division seven.

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