UNDERBANK Rangers will field a new half-back combination tomorrow as they prepare for their toughest test of the season so far at home to top Conference National club Bramley Buffaloes (2.30).
And coach Ritchie Hawkyard believes they could hold the key to a successful rest of the campaign.
Making his debut at stand-off will be Graham Charlesworth, who has been the star of the show and top tryscorer for Halifax Irish in their march to the Pennine League Premier Division crown.
He warmed up for tomorrow’s clash with a man-of-the-match hat-trick performance in last Saturday’s 41-10 Joseph Fee Memorial Trophy final triumph over Keighley Albion, with Hawkyard confident he could now form a lethal partnership with Underbank scrum half Matt Garside.
“I’ve known Graham for many years and he’s a cracking player,” said Hawkyard.
“I’m delighted to have got him here, and he’s also promised to bring a couple of his teammates from Halifax Irish with him.
“There’s still a very slight question mark over whether he’ll play this weekend, because of some other commitments he has.
“But, all being well, we’ll see him out there for what we know will be a very tough game.
“Bramley have been one of the main forces in the competition over the past few years, and they’ve made another strong start this year.
“We know we’re going to need to be at our very best to match them, but we should be able to field our strongest side of the season so far, which is bound to help.”
That stronger line-up is because many of Rangers’ summer players have now completed their winter commitments.
As well as Charlesworth from Irish, that list includes former Giants Super League prop Jason Southwell.
He has been a revelation for Pennine League Emley Moor during the winter, and should provide the extra firepower up front for Charlesworth and Garside to work the openings for the backs.
Others in action for Underbank this weekend are John Birt and Tom Senior, fresh from a weekend away with the England Lionhearts squad.
And former Giants Academy utility back Ben Littlewood is set for a return to the game following a two-year absence.
Underbank (from): Birt, Hawkyard, Southwell, Wilkinson, Pawson, York, Littlewood, St Hilaire, Steele, Senior, Garside, Charlesworth, Stuart, Dalby, Lofthouse, Jackson, Leech, Valentine.