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Acorn at full strength for semi-final showdown at Milford Marlins

1 month ago By Acorn Admin

National Conference League division one play-off showdown on Saturday

Leigh Paul-Rientoul is hoping Milford will have a false sense of security ahead of their National Conference League division one play-off showdown on Saturday.

Not only have Acorn lost two of their last three games since securing their semi-final spot - meaning they slipped to fifth in the standings and missed out on home advantage in the play-offs - but they have also been beaten in both encounters against the Marlins this year.

However, unlike in those contests, Paul-Rientoul travels with a full-strength side and with players hopefully fresh, rather than rusty, after a three-week break.

Said the Acorn head coach: "We've got every single player available. We've not had that all season.

"If we're not good enough, then they'll be no excuses.

"Milford have a 4G pitch so they'll know how to play it but I think it will work in our favour as well. We don't suit sloppy, muddy fields.

"Last time we played there (a 28-12 defeat) we went with a weakened team and two stand-in half-backs.

"They went about 20 points up and while we clawed it back a bit we slipped off again.

"They haven't played our full-strength side though and I'd like to think we can do a job on them.

"They might even be thinking, 'We've beaten this lot twice this season' and they might be a bit cocky, but they're not going to know about our best team."

Normanton Knights and Lock Lane played their play-off last week - Normanton reaching next weekend's final at Widnes with a 16-9 victory.

The Blue and Golds, conversely, have had two weekends off, the first due to the Super League Grand Final.

They had pencilled in their York & District Cup final against New Earswick last week but All Blacks, who are now out of season, did not want to play.

Nevertheless, several Acorn players blew off cobwebs for a York & District XIII in a fixture at Hull & District - the hosts winning 36-10 to lift the Johnny Whiteley Cup presented by the Hull FC legend himself.

"A few lads had a run so that was a bit of a blow-out to keep ticking over," said Paul-Rientoul.

"I don't know why the other semi-final was last week yet ours wasn't. But it has given our lads extra time to rest some niggling injuries. It's the same for Milford. It should be a good game."

Normanton's victory means if Acorn win it will set up a repeat of the 2015 final on the same ground, which the Blue and Golds won.

"That would be a good omen, wouldn't it," said Paul-Rientoul. "That pitch is 4G as well so this weekend's game could get us ready for that too."

Meanwhile, this year's York & District Cup final now seems likely to be played at the start of next season.

The 2018 competition could well be expanded, too.

Amid meetings aplenty and the apparent re-growth of the York & District association, satellite clubs Selby Warriors, Wetherby Bulldogs, Scarborough Pirates and Brotherton could all be reintroduced into the tournament, adding to the four York clubs - Acorn, Heworth, New Earswick and Lokomotive.

Heworth did not compete this year either but new rules around selection for the East v West 'State of Yorigin' match and the York & District touring teams as of next year - whereby if clubs don't play in the local cup their players may not be allowed to play representative rugby - could help persuade them to rejoin. Those discussions are ongoing.

Updated 15:54 - 19 Oct 2017 by Acorn Admin

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