YORK Acorn ARLC coach Josh Mortimer has insisted he still trusts his side ahead of Saturday's home league opener - despite last week's "infuriating" Challenge Cup defeat.

The Blue and Golds face Normanton Knights at the weekend, looking to get their home record in the National Conference League division one off to a good start.

Last week, Acorn surrendered a 10-8 half-time lead against Featherstone Lions to go down 20-10 at Thanet Road in the third round of the cup - their second defeat on the bounce after the previous week's league loss at Pilkington Recs. The Lions went on to be drawn at home to League One club Doncaster in round four.

A team meeting afterwards established the fault for the defeat lay with the players, who felt they had the game won at half-time but turned in an error-strewn second half, compounded by a flare-up which saw a man sent off for both sides.

"It was an infuriating watch back," admitted Mortimer of the Lions game. "I watched the cup draw and we would have probably got a draw we would've been buzzing about."

On the chance to make amends against Normanton, Mortimer said: "It's massive.

"It's only the second game of the (league) season but we don't want to lose at home. We want to get promoted and anything other than a win, I'll be disappointed with.

"They're similar to Fev, they've got some really big boys - I'd go as far as to say they're huge - and we've got to be ready to battle again. It's a tough ask.

"We're on the back of two losses and two poor second-half performances.

"We had a chat about them trying to understand whether it is what I'm doing, fitness collectively or player attitude.

"I think we've got the answer to that - attitude. The lads thought they'd got the job done at half-time and we'd win the game comfortably.

"I've spoken to a couple of lads. I wouldn't say they're on warnings but I've thought they've done wrong two weeks on the trot and I don't want to see it for a third week.

"I still have 100 per cent trust in my team. We're still good enough, still got the right players, still got a good shout of achieving our goals.

"We've lost twice but it's not time to say we can't achieve or that we're not good enough.

"The players are good enough, they just need to put in 80 minutes rather than 40."

First-team stalwarts Tim Stubbs and Daryl North might return and they could be joined by Joel Johnson, Josh Embleton and Nick Speck. Joe Budd, Martin Pedersen-Scott and Callum Worthington are out while Josh Parker has a trial with England Under-18s.

"I'm confident in the boys coming in," said Mortimer. "You prefer your starting team or your best team every week but I've got a lot of lads available to the club and I wouldn't have a problem picking all three of them (Johnson, Embleton or Speck)."

Heworth are still looking for their first win back in the NCL. Scott Rhodes' men visit Gateshead Storm in division three.

In the Forty20 Cup, New Earswick All Blacks visit Wyke following last week's 76-8 friendly win over Lambwath Lions, who host Acorn 'A'.