IT is a "huge" weekend for York Acorn ARLC believes head coach Josh Mortimer.

The title-chasing Blue and Golds sit second in National Conference League division one, three points behind leaders Pilkington Recs and one ahead of Milford, whom they face on Saturday.

On Milford's heels are Featherstone Lions and Skirlaugh, who host Fev on Saturday.

At Milford in May, Mortimer was disappointed to go down 25-16 in a physical encounter.

"It's huge, it's really starting to bunch up at the top," he said. "Featherstone, if they win, they've got a game in hand and they're level on points with us. If they lose to Skirlaugh, they're back in the mix.

He added: "If we're going to get a win - or anything - we need to stand up to them, because last time we got bullied off the field. We don't want the same thing to happen again.

"We were 25-0 down at half-time and hadn't even had a sniff. We won the second half 16-0 but I felt they had put the cue back in the rack."

An Acorn win would put them just a point behind Pilks, who do not play again until the following Saturday. The table-toppers suffered a surprise defeat to bottom side Dewsbury Moor Maroons two weeks ago - their first defeat of term - and needed a late score to pull away in victory over Skirlaugh last week.

"It sounds like they're faltering," Mortimer said. "So if we can put pressure on them, that's huge. We play them in three games.

"But I don't want to look too far ahead because we have a bad record against Milford.

"I didn't like how they were after the (last) game. Their assistant coach was crowing in my ear, trying to rub it in. That wound me up even more than the game. I didn't think it was the right way to be."

Mortimer has a wealth of players to choose from, with hookers James Mountford, Lewis Ward and Nick Speck all back available, as well as vice captain Joe Budd, Josh Thompson and Nathan Welsh. One who will be hard to drop is Josh Parker, whose try in last week's 46-18 win at Normanton Knights means he has scored in every first-team game he has featured in this season.

Mortimer said: "I've got a lot of boys back and picking a team is going to be really hard, but this player pool is what we've been trying to create since the start of the year.

"It's not about disappointing the lads but they've got to understand that if they're not doing their job, someone else will come in and do it. They can't rest on their laurels.

"I've been really happy with them for two weeks on the trot now," he added. "We've got good momentum again. The boys were buzzed up Sunday morning sending messages saying 'We're back', 'We're going to win the league'.

"It's a good positive environment."

Heworth host Gateshead Storm in division three.