Coach Jody Shaw will ask his Huddersfield YMCA team to rise to the challenge one more time on Saturday and book a place at National league level for the first time in the club’s history.

YM are taking plenty of support for their North I promotion play-off at Birkenhead Park, when victory would secure a place in National III North next season – the division just won by Huddersfield RUFC.

It’s the end of a six-year journey for Shaw – who is stepping down from his role after the game – and he’s keen for the playing squad to gain the ultimate reward for a lot of hard work which has gone in at Laund Hill.

YM have Tom Sharrock back after five weeks out (concussion), and also have Steve Dyke, James Bell and Lloyd Bentley fit after injuries for what is arguably a bigger day than when the club went to Twickenham.

Simon Wilson is in at scrum half because Josh Willans has failed to recover fully from a knock, but Shaw and director of rugby Damon Scholes – a formidable double act over the last few years – are keen to stress the whole squad need to be switched on for this winner-takes-all clash.

Shaw explained: “The lads fully deserve this big day but we have to make sure we are focused on doing the job and gaining reward for the work which all of us have put in.

“It’s not just the way we have knuckled down in matches, it’s the way the lads have training, right from pre-season and throughout the campaign. The work ethic and attitude has been excellent and we want to see that one more time.

“I don’t think at the outset that anyone expected us to do this well and it has been fantastic, because confidence has grown and the lads have thrived on it, but we want to make sure we finish on a high.

“I know the players are pumped up for this one and they are ready, so what we have to make sure of now is that our game management and execution are spot on for the entire 80 minutes.”

Ed Barber captains the side and he’s one of a core group of experienced players on duty, alongside plenty of match-winners in red and black shirts.

“We’ve done some research on Birkenhead Park, who have an experienced pack and a fairly sharp back line who are keen to throw the ball about, and we know they will be confident because they’ve lost only once at home all season, and that was to Wirral who won their division,” added Shaw.

“But as we have said to our lads all season, it’s not about the other side and worrying about anything they might do, it’s about making sure our gameplan is adhered to.

“Big games like this are about building pressure on the opposition. This is cup-final stuff, really, and it can come down to one moment of magic or, on the flip side, one mistake, so we need to make sure everything is squeaky clean from our point of view.”

Shaw is confident YMCA have the ability to win, but he expects it to be tough.

“One thing which we have done time and again this season is dig deep to win matches, and it might well be like that again against Birkenhead Park,” he said.

“Right across the board we have leaders in our team, people who have stood up throughout the campaign, and we need that for one more 80 minutes.

“Ed Barber has risen in the role of captain, people like James Bell, who have been here for ever, can motivate the team with the things they say and then we’ve got people who have been at National League level before, like Mark Whitehead and Tom Sharrock, who know what it’s all about.

“I’m not picking people out, because the whole squad need to perform, but it would be a dream way for me to finish and, more importantly, a wonderful thing for the club, the players and everyone involved if we can get the job done and win promotion.”

Director of rugby Scholes says there is a big expectancy but also a big job to do and no-one can afford to lose focus.

“The key thing with this team is attitude,” said Scholes.

“Our attitude has been spot on for all our big games, and there is none bigger than this one.

“The lads have enjoyed the season, they have had a good laugh and there is a real buzz about the place, and they all want to do well.

“I can understand there are some lads who are disappointed not to have made the team – people like Greig Robertson are unlucky to miss out – but it’s not about the 15 who go out on the field, it’s about the whole squad and the whole club.

“Everyone is involved, we’ve got a lot of supporters going over there, and there is just one objective at the end of the day.”

YMCA – Wrafter, Murphy, Dyke (Ste), Bell, Lumb, Sharrock, Hodge, Whitehead, Wilson, Wood, Stead, Barber, Ryder, Bentley, Johnson. Subs: Bulloch, Dyke (Stu), Hill, Housley. Travelling reserves: Robertson, Willans.

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