UNDERBANK player-coach Richard Knight is confident his club can celebrate their 125th anniversary by winning the Co-operative Conference National Grand Final!
Knight’s men take on Bramley Buffaloes in an eagerly-awaited clash at Warrington’s Halliwell-Jones Stadium on Sunday (12.30).
The West Yorkshire rivals dominated the regular League season, with Bramley just pipping Rangers to claim the minor champions crown.
Honours were shared at one win each during the season, with Bramley just edging out Underbank 30-24 in their play-off clash in Leeds 13 days ago.
But the Holmfirth-based side bounced straight back with their convincing 44-10 home triumph over Nottingham Outlaws a week later to claim their Final berth at the second attempt.
And Knight believes a repeat performance in the biggest game of the season will put his side in a strong position to celebrate a superb season in spectacular style.
“Reaching the Grand Final last weekend was a fantastic feeling, and now we want to go on and claim the ultimate prize,” he said.
“We know we’ll be going into the game as slight underdogs, particularly as Bramley not only finished top of the table but are also playing in their fifth successive final.
“But we all believe we have the side capable of going there and winning.
“We’ve had a fantastic year, finishing higher than we ever have before (second), and we’re also proud of the fact we went through the entire season unbeaten at home.
“There’s been nothing between us and Bramley in the two League games this season, with both victories having been achieved by just two points, and Bramley just edging us out by six in the play-off game.
“And we know if we come out with the right approach on the day we can take this game. We have the ability.”
Knight is boosted by the return of pacy backs Lee St Hilaire and Richard Aka, who missed last week’s win over Nottingham because they were at a wedding.
But Underbank are sweating over Neil Barrett’s disciplinary hearing after he was sent off for an alleged stamp during the play-off defeat at Bramley.
But Rangers are definitely without hooker Andy Boothroyd, who has been prevented by Conference officials from playing because of his time in action for the professionals of Sheffield Eagles and then on loan at Oldham.
And Knight admits that’s left a nasty taste in the mouth.
“We believe we have done everything by the book ,” he added.
“He’s been released by Sheffield and, as far as we’re concerned, he’s a free agent.
“It wasn’t a problem when Andy played for us earlier in the season, but all of a sudden it is now.
“But there’s nothing we can do about it now. We feel hard done by over this and intend to use it as an extra source of motivation on the day.”
Underbank squad: St Hilaire, Valentine, Knight, D Hawkyard, R Hawkyard, Midgeley, Lofthouse, Mitchell, Keegan, Aka, Thorley, Senior, Barrett, Worthington, O’Brien, Vinaka, Bellas, Housley.