YMCA go into their New Year programme as Yorkshire I League leaders with a visit to derby rivals Old Brodleians tomorrow (2.15).
Although the Hipperholme side went into the Christmas break languishing third from bottom, they have strung a number of impressive performances together, with a victory over Bridlington following on from away wins at Pontefract and Scarborough.
So YM coach Jody Shaw is fully aware of the dangers that Brods could pose, and is determined his side do not take the Calderdale men too lightly.
“They are a far better side now than when we ran in eight tries against them in a 52-3 win at our place in September,” confirmed Shaw.
“It was great to go into the Christmas break at the top of the table, because everything is now in our own hands, and we aren’t reliant on results going our way elsewhere.
“But I’ve been trying to impress on our lads that it really is only ‘half-time’ as far as the season is concerned, and we have a lot of very difficult games coming up, many of which are away from home, so it’s vital we hit the ground running to start the new year.”
Shaw and YM boss Damon Scholes have the benefit of being able to name their formidable full-strength back line, with the major change coming in the second row, where Greg Robertson will line up at lock alongside James Bell.
Regular second-row Stuart Dyke sustained a shoulder injury against Knottingley in the final match of 2012 and is likely to miss a number of games, so the selectors have chosen to give Robertson a rare starting chance.
“Greg has had a couple of run-outs in the first team from the bench, where he has impressed since joining us from Old Brodleians. Naturally, he was dying to play against his old team,” added Shaw.
Will Sellars also continues at prop (another player to impress against Knottingley in his first game back for over two years) with Josh Wrafter away on business.
The selectors have gone for three forwards on the bench with Fabrizio Leone-Mazza starting there alongside Alex Nightingale and big Darren Neilly, who will add valuable size and experience.
YMCA: Johnson; Stead, Ryder, Barber, Bentley; Clayton, Wilson; Ste Dyke, Hill, Sellars, Bell, Robertson, Lumb, Hodge, Whitehead. Subs: Leone-Mazza, Nightingale, Neilly.