IF you don’t feel that the £3 entry fee is worth it to watch York Acorn take on Heworth this weekend - feel free to ask Josh Mortimer for your money back after the final whistle.

“Only the first couple of people though, I don’t want a queue!” joked the Acorn boss as his side prepare to host their cross-city rivals in the NCL Premier Division tomorrow afternoon (2:30pm).

The hotly-anticipated clash is the first time that the sides have met since the COVID-affected 2021 season, which saw Liam Jackson’s drop-goal in the second half of golden point extra time seal a 14-13 win for the Villagers.

Despite a trio of breakages - an arm, a jaw and an ankle - and another playing on for over half an hour with a dislocated shoulder, Acorn battled back from a 12-point deficit, and then again from a late drop-goal, to twice level proceedings before the fatal hammer blow.

Mortimer recalled to The Press: “I remember saying ‘sorry boys, we’re going to have to just dig in’. Ultimately, we just ran out of bodies.

“They’d just given absolutely everything - they were just running around the field on absolute empty.

“When we got back into the changing rooms, they were all just destroyed. They were absolutely devastated.

“I remember shaking all their hands. I hate losing, absolutely hate it, but I’d got 14 lads who had given absolutely everything. All 17 of my players put their bodies on the line and had dug in, we hadn’t been beaten by a lack of effort.

“If you’ve got that effort, you’re always going in the right place, and I certainly don’t expect that to be any different on Saturday.”

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One thing that both coaches can agree on is that no matter the outcome - the game is sure to be a fantastic showcase of rugby in the city.

“It should be a good game, right! It’s something that both sides have wanted for quite a number of years,” Mortimer explained.

“We’ve got some stewards organised, and we usually open one gate, but we’ll have two open so people can get into the ground a bit quicker.

“There’ll be a bottle bar, stuff like that, and a bouncy castle as well for the kids. All our home games we try to make it a bit of a party atmosphere, and there’ll be a local band playing afterwards as well.

“It should be entertaining – they’re a good side, we’re a good side. It should be a great advert for rugby.

“I’ve said it for years, for £3, it is the best entertainment you’ll get, coming and watching an NCL Premier team.

“If you’re at that loose end on Saturday, pay the £3. If you don’t think it’s worth it, come see me afterwards and I’ll pay you it back.”

Despite having a week away from NCL action - including a weekend spent abroad at the Chilton’s joint stag do - Nathan Conroy, Ben Tenge and Davey Burns are all doubts for Mortimer’s side.

But just what is the key to gaining back the bragging rights?

“If we can keep our heads, then I think we’ll be alright,” he admitted.

“We’re just going to play our own game and not let them control the pace of the ruck.

“We’re very much a front-foot attacking team, and if we do get put on the back foot, we can find it very difficult to go forward again. But we’ve got a few bigger men involved now, so they can take us forward.

“For some of them, I think it’s going to be a tough afternoon and they’re going to be very sore come Saturday night or Sunday morning.

“But that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to go forward before we can try and play with the backs, and I’d back them to score points against anyone.”