York City Knights v Barrow Raiders (7.30, Premier Sports)
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.
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.
Raiders are likely to be boosted by the inclusion of Liam Harrison, Sean Casey and Andrew Dawson, while Nathan Mossop (Achilles) faces a late test.
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.”