York Knights continue their pre-season preparations against last season’s Betfred Championship Grand Finalists Batley Bulldogs at the LNER Community Stadium on Sunday (3pm).
York kicked off 2023 with a 28-12 friendly win at Doncaster RLFC at the Eco-Power Stadium last weekend, reeling off 20 unanswered second-half points to beat the Dons.
The Knights face a step up in opposition on Sunday against Championship rivals Batley.
The Bulldogs finished 5th last season and recorded shock away wins at Barrow Raiders (18-8) and Featherstone Rovers (32-28) in the play-offs before suffering a 44-12 defeat to Leigh Centurions in the promotion decider at the Leigh Sports Village.
Over the off-season, Craig Lingard’s side have added Newcastle Thunder half-back Josh Woods and full-back pair Elliot Kear and Aidan McGowan, from Bradford Bulls and Huddersfield Giants respectively, the latter joining on loan.
Former Wakefield Trinity prop Keegan Hirst and ex-Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves middle Samy Kibula have further bolstered the forward pack.
Batley began their friendly outings ahead of the 2023 season with a 32-22 victory over Dewsbury Rams at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium.
Ben White, Josh Hodson, Tom Lillycrop, Dale Morton and Nyle Flynn crossed the whitewash for the hosts while Morton landed four conversions.
Previewing the Batley clash, Head Coach Andrew Henderson said: “The messages will be very similar to those we focused on and drove last week.
“We’ve now got the challenge of a better opposition and a team that I feel are at the top end of the Championship.
“We deliberately planned the pre-season like this. Not being disrespectful to Doncaster, but a top-end League One side was the right fit for us last weekend.
“In large part, we saw some really encouraging signs and what we had been working on we put into practice in the game.
“This week is now about challenging ourselves at the next level against better opposition and being able to deliver to a consistent level.”
Captain Chris Clarkson is being assessed at training this evening after picking up a niggle in the first week of January.
Henderson said: “If he’s not 100%, I don’t want to risk him. There’s no point doing that at this stage of the season.”
The Knights remain without prop Pauli Pauli, back-rower Ukuma Ta’ai, centres Jesse Dee and Brad Ward as well as half-back Jamie Ellis through injury.
For full ticket information on York Knights' pre-season friendly clash against Batley Bulldogs at the LNER Community Stadium, click HERE.