YORK Acorn have set a target of finishing in the play-offs of the National Conference League premier division upon their return to the amateur top-flight.

Acorn get their season underway with a home game against Underbank Rangers this afternoon following their dramatic promotion from division one last year.

A climatic 88-0 final-day victory over Dewsbury Moor confirmed automatic promotion on points difference over Featherstone Lions.

Acorn begin life back in amateur rugby league’s top-flight by hosting an Underbank side who will be full of confidence following their recent strong showings in the Coral Challenge Cup.

The Holmfirth-club defeated fellow amateur sides Lock lane and Distington in the first couple of rounds before knocking out League 1 side West Wales.

The Rangers were then beaten by Bradford Bulls but could leave with their heads held high at the respectable final scoreline of 22-0.

Acorn head coach Mortimer admitted that the game will be the toughest since he took charge of the club's first-team, though said that it was one his side need to win should they harbour serious ambitions of making the play-offs.

"We've set a target that we want to make the play-offs," Mortimer stated.

"That's going to be extremely hard for us but that's the target that the players have set.

"It's about the little things right week on week. The first week is going to be really tough for us, Underbank are a great side.

"They knocked out West Wales in the Challenge Cup and they lost 22-0 to Bradford - there's Championship teams that will lose by more points to Bradford this year.

"They achieved the play-offs last year and it really wouldn't surprise me if Underbank were talking about winning the league or winning the play-offs by the end of the year, or both.

"For us, to start the season the way that we want to start it, we're going to have to perform on Saturday and maybe catch them a little unaware with the hangover from the Challenge Cup.

"If we're going to achieve the goals that we want, then we're going to have to win our home games and we've got to be beating the likes of Underbank.

"This is going to be the hardest game that we've had since I've been in charge of the first team.

"The difference between division one and the premier division is the quality of players and the opposition don't let you perform at the level that you want to perform at.

"It won't be as easy for us now. Last year we could probably start slow because we were the dominant team.

"I guarantee that if we start slowly against Underbank on Saturday, we'll be 24-0 down and the game will dead."

Meanwhile, Heworth will be hoping that it will be third time lucky as they host Askham, following two previous match postponements as a result of a waterlogged pitch at Elmpark Way.

Heworth lost out in the final of the NCL division three play-offs last term, losing 30-16 to Dewsbury Celtic, having finished third in the table.

Today’s opponents, Askham, were relegated as the bottom side in division two last year, and have made a slow start to the new season.

Home defeats to Leigh East (34-22) and Oldham St Annes (26-12) have come in rounds one and two respectively for the Cumbrian club.