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Knights primed for Swinton Lions screen test
CHRIS THORMAN is optimistic the glare of the television cameras will help to lift his York City Knights side off the bottom of the Co-operative Championship table.
The Knights play Swinton Lions at Leigh Sporting Village in a high noon duel tomorrow which will be broadcast live by Premier Sports, who will also be at the Knights’ home match against Sheffield on Thursday night.
The Knights are yet to get off the mark in the league but they beat the Lions 30-22 at Huntington Stadium during their encouraging opening to the 2012 season, and player-boss Thorman is hoping that fact, plus the TV spotlight, will prove to be positive factors.
He said: “We’ve already played them and beaten them and we know we’re capable of doing it again. It’s about getting the best out of the boys. They’ve got some decent players but we’re aware of that and we were aware of it the last time we played them. The fact that it’s a TV game might make it a bit different and hopefully that will bring a boost to our players.”
Asked if that Northern Rail Cup match would have a bearing on tomorrow’s encounter, Thorman said: “It won’t have an effect but the fact we beat them will be in the minds of both sets of players. That match won’t bear a resemblance to tomorrow’s, though. It’s a different day, the teams will be slightly different, and the fact it’s on TV might slightly change it too.
“We’ve already played at Leigh Sporting Village (a 36-6 loss to Leigh at the end of March) and we want to improve on how we played the last time we were there.”
Teenage scrum-half Ben Johnson, as reported by The Press, will be thrown in at the deep end assuming he comes through last night’s training with no ill-effects. That session was his first with the Knights since his dual-registration switch from Castleford. He could not train earlier in the week after suffering concussion playing for the Tigers’ under-20s last weekend, but he passed his ‘head test’ yesterday morning.
He was given a play-book on Tuesday and Thorman, his half-back partner, hopes he can come up to speed quickly with how the Knights play.
“It will be a work in progress, but it’s quite simple,” said Thorman. “Our forwards get us on the front foot and me and Ben are in control of the kicking game and where we go on the field.”
Johnson has lit up recent Cas U20s matches, not least with solo tries. Thorman added: “I want him to relax and enjoy it primarily, and feel no pressure. We obviously want him to score tries and play well.
“He’s been brought in to offer more threat with the ball because we don’t have any other ball players apart from myself.”
Johnson’s arrival means Brett Turner will switch to hooker, almost certainly featuring off the bench. He scored two tries from dummy-half for the reserves on Thursday night before being withdrawn at half-time.
Thorman added: “He went well there. It’s definitely his best position.”
Johnson’s fellow dual-reg Cas player John Davies stays in the second row but Ed Smith’s ankle injury in the defeat to Batley last time out rules him out, likewise clup captain Alex Benson’s back problem.
Rhys Clarke is set to feature, despite playing the bulk of Thursday’s reserves match. Dave Sutton is also in a provisional 19-man squad despite coming off that night after taking a knock.
As reported by The Press, Swinton full-back/winger Ian Mort, Championship One’s player of the year and the club’s record-breaking points scorer as the Lions stormed to promotion, is ruled out with a facial injury suffered in last week’s 52-0 Challenge Cup defeat to Super League leaders Hudddersfield. Gavin Dodd is likely to take his stead, while Adam Walker joined the club on dual-reg from Huddersfield yesterday and might feature.
Swinton director of rugby Paul Kidd reckoned the teams’ last encounter would count for nothing tomorrow.
“It was a midweek game at York early in the season,” he said. “The two teams are in the lower regions of the league and there will be enough motivation for both to want to win this game.”
Swinton: from R Hawkyard, Dodd, Reay, Armstrong, Penny, Ainscough, Watson, Mills, M Smith, Meekin, Cunniffe, D Hawkyard, I’Anson, Morrison, Riley, C Clarke, Ashall, Walker.
Knights: from Tansey, Bush, Ford, Garside, Elliott, Thorman, Johnson, Sullivan, Lee, Turner, Freer, Davies, Houston, R Clarke, King, Aldous, Hemmings, Brining, Sutton.
Referee: George Stokes (St Helens).
Kick off: noon.