York City Knights coach Gary Thornton has challenged his men to maintain their top-eight push when they face a fired-up Barrow Raiders in Thursday’s televised Kingstone Press Championship clash, live on Premier Sports TV.
The Raiders lost their last match 60-6 against Featherstone and Barrow coach Darren Holt is sure to demand a major improvement.
Thornton said: “I’m expecting a massive backlash from them. They’re in front of the TV cameras and they’ll want to right a few wrongs, but we don’t want to be the team they do that against. It’s a massively important game for us.”
He added: “Barrow are not a bad team at all. I’ve seen plenty of them this year, and even in defeat they’ve done well. They’ve got eight bonus points, which shows how close they are. Apart from last week they’ve not been getting beaten comprehensively.”
Simon Brown returns from suspension, while Ben Johnston and George Elliot are also available after calf and back injuries. Matt Nicholson and Jason Golden are long-term absentees, but Thornton has revealed that Nicholson is ahead of schedule and could return from a shoulder operation in early August.
Holt said: “The players have spoken about it (the defeat against Featherstone). They’ve been very open and honest, and have put their hands up. It’s been a good reaction. They’ve worked hard since then and hopefully we can go forward from it.”
Meanwhile, the Knights have again enlisted the help of the famous ‘New York Brass Band’ to give the fans an atmospheric boost off the field tomorrow night. Providing a party atmosphere at the Knights v Swinton and more recently England v Exiles this season, they are a Rugby League loving 7-piece, with a line-up of percussion, sax, trumpets, trombones and sousaphone. The band take its inspiration from contemporary New Orleans musicians, but have a repertoire that ranges from Marvin Gaye to George Michael, from Cee-Lo Green to Stevie Wonder, with some funky, gritty northern originals thrown in for good measure.
To help swell the numbers off the field, the Knights have been out in the community giving out 1000 family tickets for just £5 this week. Season ticket holders can also bring a friend for just £10 using the voucher from their booklets, and York City FC & Hull FC season ticket holders can also attend for just £10. Entry will be via turnstile 2 at the main entrance only on production of their season ticket card.
The main gates open at 6.30pm and the Jockey lane turnstiles open at 7pm tomorrow night. Bar 13 opens at 5pm for a pre-match lemonade.