WHILE a finish inside the Betfred Championship play-offs is now gone for both York City Knights and Newcastle Thunder, who face off at Kingston Park tomorrow evening, the two sides still have scores to settle.

The two clubs are among those attempting a best-of-the-rest finish of seventh past the in-form Whitehaven and neither will want a bottom 10 placing, with 11th-placed Widnes Vikings still able to climb up the table in the remaining weeks.

York currently hold eighth position and will be seeking to strengthen that spot when making the trip to their ninth-placed rivals, who would go ahead of them with victory.

As well as in the league standings, there are plenty of similarities between the two clubs.

Off the field in particular, it is understood that both Newcastle and York are well thought of by senior figures within the sport.

In their first season back in the Championship since reforming under the Newcastle Thunder banner, the club have performed admirably in 2021 and currently sit above well-established second tier sides such as Sheffield Eagles, Widnes and Dewsbury Rams.

Thunder are one of only three Championship sides to have an academy and the likes of Alex Clegg and Alex Donaghy are among those to have progressed through the club’s academy and gone on to become regular first-team players.

Newcastle’s St James’ Park has also hosted all but one of the Betfred Super League’s Magic Weekend events since 2014 and the area is seen as a hotbed of emerging talent within the sport and away from the game’s traditional heartlands.

Added to that, the Thunder, like the Knights can boast one of the best grounds in the division and arguably better than some of those in Super League, in the 10,000-seater Kingston Park, which is also the home of rugby union side Newcastle Falcons.

When conversations turn to a potential restructure to the professional league systems amid the reduced television deal, as many in the sport have become accustomed to, Newcastle and York are constantly discussed as potential growth areas.

Should the game’s decision-makers decide upon two divisions of 10 teams from the 2023 season, as has been discussed by the clubs, then one would feel that Newcastle and York would strongly be able to argue their cases for inclusion.

Putting aside the off-the-field plaudits that both sides have received over recent years, the two sides do battle on the pitch on Friday evening in a game that looks set to be every bit as thrilling as the reverse fixture.

Newcastle narrowly triumphed 28-26 at the LNER Community Stadium, with winger Alex Clegg scoring twice in the second half for the North East outfit.

The game will perhaps be best remembered for the fact that York were forced into fielding winger Ben Jones-Bishop and back-rower Chris Clarkson as their two half-backs, such were the injury problems in James Ford’s side.

With Matty Marsh and Corey Johnson now beginning to form a pairings in the pivots, it will be interesting to see how the Knights fare this time around.

At the time of writing, Newcastle were yet to announce their squad for the game but have said that new loanee Tom Spencer, from Super League side Leigh Centurions will be in contention to play in the Thunder's forward pack, mostly likely in the front row.