Friday, 22 July 2016

Sunday's Coming: Barrow

To paraphrase Lady Bracknell, to play Barrow twice away from home in one season is unfortunate: to play them three times away from home feels like… er… well… slightly unfair. Especially on Barrow.

Paul Crarey must by sick of the sight of us by now. Sunday sees his third attempt to overcome Hornets at Craven Park, and - having won their last three matches of the regular season - Barrow come into Sunday’s game with a bit of form amd momentum - the pick of their run, a late, late win at Keighley.

Barrow’s peripatetic half back Jamie Dallimore spoke to the North West Evening Mail this week about Barrow’s chances on Sunday - and in the playoffs. Interestingly, in a game where no-one likes being second best, he said: “I think Toulouse are the best team in the competition by a mile, but there is no reason why we can’t get second best”. Keeping with his theme of duality, he also said: “… we owe them one, well we owe them two.” Wise words, mate.

There’s a possibility that Crarey will be playing centre Chris Hankinson outside Dallimore at the weekend, as he looks to add some size to his half-back defence - a tactic deployed at Lawkholme Lane.

Hornets make the trip to Cumbria with a couple of additions to the squad - both from Oldham!

Steve Roper comes back to add experienced cover at half-back, and utility back Jack Holmes - who scored 20 tries in 36 appearances in his two seasons at Oldham - has joined Hornets on loan for the rest of the year.

Alan Kilshaw said: “We are in good shape and we’re looking forward to this next stage to put ourselves in a good position. We just want to kick on now. With the dual-registration deadline coming in and we have got a couple of players carrying knocks, we have not had a big squad all year, they are just to strengthen us through this next phase.”

Elsewhere in the Super 8s, the big story of the week is the implosion at York City Knights - that threatens to throw the comp into chaos. The club issues a statement last night confirming that York City Knights has ceased to trade.

Compelled to play at Bootham Crescent after York City Council pushed through the upgrade of Moks Cross for use by the city’s Rugby League and football teams, the Knights are caught in a contractual wrangle with both York City Council and York City Football Club over a clause that forbids them to play at the football ground within 24 hours of a York City game.

The situation was exacerbated by the fact that the Knights had a contract with the council, but the council had a separate contract with the football club - and none of the parties could agree on what it is they’ve agreed to agree on. Hence, York’s game with Doncaster on Sunday was postponed earlier in the week, ahead of Thursday’s announcement that the club has closed with immediate effect. Interestingly, the club statement also references underlying financial issues as a key factor in pulling down the shutters.

The impact on the Super 8s - and on Hornets - is yet to be calculated. From a club point of view, we now gain no real advantage in finishing second - and we lose a vital home game. Indeed, we might now have been better served finishing 4th: then we’d get Toulouse at home and still end up with an equal number of home and away games. Messy.

From a league point of view: on previous occasions when a club has withdraw part way through a season (the last one was the old York club), their record was expunged  - which would erase the thrashing we took at Bootham Crescent and redress our points difference (it’d also leave us unbeaten, on a technicality).

At the moment there’s no news on what the RFL have planned for this and the next phase of the season. We’d imagine that the ‘Super 7’ would continue a team short - though there would have to be some sort of compensation paid to the clubs expecting to host York at home. The real problem comes in the promotion playoff phase that should have involved 3rd, 4th and 5th + the loser of the promotion final.

However it pans out, it’s a horrendous mess for all concerned - and a depressing way to kick-off the next phase of the season.