York City Knights vs Halifax - Match Preview
York City Knights look set to give dual registered back-row Laurence Pearce his debut when they take on Halifax at the Huntington Stadium on Sunday, kick off 3pm.
Coach Chris Thorman will be looking from a positive response from his players after their disappointing opening round defeat at the hands of Dewsbury last week. Hulking Hull back rower Pearce, if selected, could provide additional size and strength to the Knights pack. The pack could also be bolstered by the return of Ed Smith, who could return from a minor injury that ruled him out of last week’s fixture. The fitness of Rhys Clarke and Paul King looks less certain however; Clarke is likely to miss the match with a shoulder injury, while King’s availability will be touch and go, with a decision likely to be made tonight.
The Knights will face a Halifax side that have consistently been a force to be reckoned with, having had four top three finishes in their last five seasons. Although they performed arguably below expectations last season, finishing in fifth place, they are still a sizable force in the Co-operative Championship. Their squad contains several star players, such as Makali Aizue and Ste Tyrer and they have unquestionable strength in depth; they were missing six first choice players in last week’s comprehensive 44-18 victory over the Hunslet Hawks. And with a coach of the stature of Karl Harrison, a proven success who led an unfancied Batley Bulldogs to a third place finish last season, you can be sure that they will be well coached too.
However, in last season’s corresponding fixture, the Knights produced a stunning performance to defeat an in form Halifax outfit 22-8. A repeat performance would be the perfect response in the eyes of coach Thorman, and indeed, it will be necessary for the Knights to consistently play at that level if they are to overcome opponents of the calibre of Halifax and prove that their strengthened squad can achieve the results necessary to climb up the table.