CHAMPIONS Underbank Rangers are set to play their first full match in three weeks as they travel to South Wales Hornets tomorrow.
Rangers last played the full 80 minutes on May 19 when they extended their National Conference League Division III winning streak to four at the expense of Coventry Bears.
However, the men from Holmfirth weren’t in action the following Saturday because of Super League’s Magic Weekend in Manchester,
Then a serious injury meant last week’s home derby clash with Bramley was abandoned before the hour.
And player-Coach Richard Knight is concerned about the potential negative effect the lack of game time will have on his men.
“The problem we have is that we played the best we have done all year at Coventry but then had the week off,” he said.
“When we went into the game last week against Bramley we were a bit sloppy in the first 20 and then we found a bit of form and started to score a few tries.
“But then, unfortunately, there was a bad injury to one of their guys so we were half-an-hour short of game time.
“So in the last month since we played Coventry, we’ve played a 50-minute game and we’ve had a week off, whereas South Wales played a full game last week and also played the week before.”
To coincide with the troubles at The Cross, injuries have served up a new dilemma for Knight.
Craig Williams and Dave Valentine look doubtful, while hooker Steve Berry and Rob Joyce are away.
Alex Chatterton may be in line to make his return when his sternum injury is assessed tonight.
But Knight is not too downhearted about the absences and has told his reserve men to take this chance to impress.
“We’re struggling a bit for personnel at the moment, but Michael Lang will be back,” he added.
“There are no dramas, we’ve got a 25-man squad with six or seven missing out each week, so it’s a good chance for those who haven’t had a run-out to feature at some point.
“It’s a great chance for them to cement a consistent place in the team, to put their hand up and put in a good performance.”
Despite injury issues and lack of game time, the head coach remains confident that his side can put in a performance that will continue their recent success on the road.
“We are confident going down there, but we also know we went there last year pretty confident and only just got the points.
“So we can’t afford to be too confident.
“It’s going to be tough, they are a big physical team, they like playing at home and nobody likes a four or five-hour bus journey. But we will put all that to one side and just give it our best shot.”