YORK Acorn are to stand defiant in the wake of last week's derby mauling and have pledged to turn their season around.

The Blue and Golds are still reeling from their 43-2 defeat at Heworth, which has left them down in ninth place in the National Conference League division two table, just four points off the bottom.

But spokesman Paul Lumby said the mood in the Thanet Road camp was good ahead of Saturday's visit of Sheffield Hillsborough Hawks (KO 2pm), with the players all agreeing to pull together.

"The lads are relishing the challenge of pulling out of this bad run and showing their character," he said. "We want to prove we can turn the season around and we can get a buzz out of that.

"You can either bury your head in the sand, do nothing about the defeats and accept it, or you can pull together as a team and play and battle your way out of a bad run.

"Nobody at the club enjoyed it last week but it gives us extra incentive to pull through so that we're in better shape to play them next time."

As for the visit of the Hawks, he added: "When you're in a bad run, you're only one win away from starting a good run. There's enough talent in the club to see us pull through."

Second-rower Dave Norman should return after injury and winger/centre Paul Day comes into contention after unavailability, but full-back Andy Lee is a doubt after picking up a back strain last week.

Coach Dave Kay might also promote players from the 'A' team, who are at home to Selby Warriors in Yorkshire League division two. The Warriors, meanwhile, are likely to put out a good squad after players were able to rest last week as the club conceded the White Rose Trophy game to Stanningley Crown due to injuries and absences.

Heworth player-coach Brendan Carlyle reckons his side have the strength in depth to maintain their stunning 100 per cent start to the season despite the loss for a few weeks of in-form loose-forward Steve Barnard.

As reported in later editions of yesterday's Evening Press, Barnard dislocated a shoulder while playing for the Yorkshire representative amateur side in their 42-24 defeat to the touring Australian Aboriginals.

The first game he will miss is Saturday's trip to lowly Rochdale Mayfield, for which fellow forwards Lee Clarke (back) and Carl Barrow (unavailable) are also out of the reckoning.

But Carlyle said: "They're big blows but we've got a strong squad and there are a few more players, like Liam Cochrane (facial injury) and Sam Clarke (unavailable), coming back.

"Steve Barnard, who's definitely been on a roll, and Lee Clarke have been playing out of their skins and they're going to be missed. But these are the things that happen and it's good that we've got strength in depth and competition for places is high."

Carlyle admitted his team enjoyed a 'good night out around town' last Saturday to celebrate the derby win, and they also rescheduled the regular Tuesday training session for last night so that the players could watch team-mates Barnard and Dan Briggs play for Yorkshire.

But it will be business as usual on Saturday when the Villagers will look to maintain a strong hold over their Lancashire rivals.

"There is a good buzz in the camp. The mood around the whole club is on a good high," he said.

"We've got a good record against Mayfield and we will be favourites to beat them but everybody raises their game to beat you when you are top of the table and we've got to take the same attitude into this game as we did last week."

Heworth 'A' entertain lowly Crofton Cougars in YL division three.

New Earswick All Blacks coach Simon Baynes has some tough selection choices ahead of Saturday's visit of Kinsley Raiders (KO 2.30pm).

The All Blacks rested several key players last week for the White Rose Trophy win over third division high-flyers Mirfield, but with no new injuries sustained and all players doing well Baynes has been handed a selection poser for the division one clash.

Alan Pallister, Mick Ramsden, Jamie Daniel, Mick Harrison, Dean Thomas and Mark Tipping are included among those who come back into contention.

Baynes said: "We attempt to give all players a good run-out by using a rotation system which I feel has worked well for everyone - except that I haven't been able to get a game yet."

Kinsley have lost both their league matches so far but not by much, and they were only defeated 10-6 in their latest game by leaders Hunslet Old Boys, who hammered New Earswick.

York Groves will need to be at full strength and on top form when they entertain hitherto unbeaten table-toppers Newsome Panthers in the Pennine League division four.

The Terriers will be looking for an improved turn-out after last week's disappointing result at Wyke, for which Groves had only 12 players due to late pull-outs and finished the game with just eight on the field.

Player-coach Simon Moat is calling for all fit players to make themselves available for this match at Oaklands (KO 2pm).

Updated: 11:10 Thursday, October 31, 2002