"WE don't fear York."

So said Hunslet boss Gary Thornton ahead of the clash with their table-topping arch-rivals at the John Charles Stadium tomorrow.

Thornton's team go into the game on the back of a defeat at Newcastle but he reckons focus may not have been fully on the task at hand that day, with one eye instead on tomorrow's big game. He has also demanded a "massive reaction" from his troops.

"There are two games we're disappointed about - the home defeat to Keighley and last week's loss at Newcastle, which was poor," said Thornton of the ninth-placed Parksiders' season so far, their one other defeat having come to favourites Bradford.

"But I'm pretty happy with where we're at. Generally speaking we were terrific at Oldham and we backed that up with another good win against Workington, both times coming from a 12-point deficit, which shows character.

"We've maybe been a bit guilty of disrespecting some opposition, but that won't be the case this week.

"It's going to be a tough one but we're looking forward to it. These are games we want to play in. There's an air of excitement about this one, and preparation for some of the other games has suffered because of that.

"I've asked for a reaction - I want a massive reaction. We're playing top of the league, we're at home and we need a massive improvement on last week."

The Knights won the pre-season encounter between the teams 30-4 but 18 points came in the last four minutes.

Thornton, the former York coach, said: "We're confident. We don't fear York. I felt we were good value in the pre-season game before we conceded some soft late tries. That was our first hit-out and York had played three times so were probably ahead of us fitness-wise."

He added of tomorrow's fixture: "It's certainly one the Hunslet fans look for and I guess the York fans do too.

"The support York have been getting looks pretty good and I expect there'll be a fair few coming over.

"It's as close to a derby as York get and usually it's a good atmosphere. Our fans have been terrific and there'll be a good turnout. Both teams will want to play in front of a big noisy crowd."