BUOYANT Underbank Rangers are ready to exact revenge on the side that inflicted Conference National Grand Final misery on them last season.
Head coach Richard Knight’s men face Warrington Wizards at The Cross tomorrow (4.00) riding the crest of a wave.
Bank head into the contest at the top of the table for the very first time, having never won their opening four League fixtures before.
And that has put the Holmfirth-based side in confident mood as they look to secure victory over a Wizards side who beat them 23-18 in last season’s showpiece Grand Final at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Rangers’ record against the champions is far from impressive, with just one win and a draw – both at The Cross – from the 19 Conference National meetings between the two teams.
But Knight is confident they can rattle up win No2 against their arch rivals this weekend and gain the sweetest of revenge for last year’s final defeat.
“Last’s season Grand Final defeat hurt, and tomorrow is the first chance for the boys to do something about it,” said Knight.
“Obviously it’ll never fully erase the bitter memory of that day, but if we beat them this weekend it’ll certainly show them that they didn’t see the real Underbank in the final.
“To be honest, we’re still not playing to our full potential at this stage.
“We’re going into games and not sticking to the structure or the gameplan.
“It’s something we’ve talked about this week and, hopefully, we’ll see that reflected in our performance tomorrow.
“If that’s the case then there’s no question the three League points will be ours.”
Underbank moved three points clear at the top of the table after a hard-fought 24-22 triumph at highly-rated Featherstone Lions six days ago.
But Knight will be making a couple of changes to his 17 tomorrow.
Back in contention are key quartet Alex Chatterton, Dominic Horn, Paul Horsfall and Adam Ryder, while unavailable are the experienced Rob Joyce and Richard Aka.
Joyce is at a wedding and Aka is serving a two-game suspension picked up playing for St Joseph’s in the Holiday Cup final, much to the anger of Knight.
“Richard has been banned by the Huddersfield League for running onto the pitch to celebrate a try when he was in the sin-bin, which is fair enough,” he added.
“But what disappoints me is that the ban comes into force for our fixtures and not a Holliday Cup tie or winter game.
“It just gives the impression the League are not prepared to lend their support for one of their own clubs or the summer competition.”
The clash is also part of a massive double-header at The Cross, with the action getting under way at 2pm when Underbank’s winter team host Elland A.
And at stake for the winners is promotion to Division III of the Pennine League.
Underbank Rangers: Hendrick, Allette, Briggs, Midgley, Barrett, Carroll, Williams, Boothroyd, Dalby, Housley, St Hilaire, Mitchell, Smith, Geoghan, Cummins, Horsfall, Ryder, Chatterton, Horn.