Thursday, 9 May 2019

Sunday's Coming: York City Knights

We have good news and bad news.

The good news is that we have it on excellent authority that the posts are already up for Sunday's visit of York City Knights. So well done to the currently depleted Spotland Ground Staff as it was a bit breezy earlier in the week.

The bad news is that - since the Stadium debacle back in March - the RFL's darlings on this side of the pond have been on a relentless run of form that has taken them to fifth in the table with eight wins from 12 games. What caught our eye is that they've played eight of those 12 games at home - with only two of those being defeats, both to teams above them in the table (Toronto and Sheffield).
York's last three defeats have all come away from home.

Apart from the the tonking of Barrow (56-nil!) and a 22 point winning margin over Halifax, this has all the hallmarks of a team that gets the job done (they have the second smallest positive points difference in the competition). Indeed, in the last month they have bookended a narrow four-point loss in Toulouse with wins over Widnes and Batley, by seven and four points respectively. So staying in the arm-wrestle is absolutely key to competing with James Ford's side.

This was evident last week when York almost came unstuck against Batley, as the Bulldogs ramped up their second-half defensive effort to get within a score of nicking the game. Leading comfortably by 22-10 at half time, York found Batley's high-intensity approach after the break difficult to manage, the visitors restricting the Knights to a single second-half try as they chipped away at the margin, but were beaten by the clock.

Having had a look at the highlights, Batley capitalised on York's flaky right edge, isolating Judah Mazive on three occasions to score.

In the last week, Ford has been quoted in York's local press as asking for 'more support' from his board if his side are to sustain their early season form. He wants investment in his squad and in his side's training 'environment'. But his immediate concern is the injury crisis that has his squad down to the bare bones. He said: "We're going to struggle to field 17 players next week. We picked up another couple of injuries (against Batley)".

Hornets come into the game on the back of an all-too familiar pumping by Featherstone Rovers - which will, no-doubt, have given Matt Calland a few extra things to consider - though we do hear on the grape-vine that local reinforcements are on the way.

More than anything, though, the club needs a confidence-boosting performance - and instilling belief is the biggest coaching challenge of all. See you Sunday.