It’s now crunch time in the league for Hunslet and Featherstone

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TOMORROW’S MATCHES could define the season for Hunslet Hawks and Featherstone Rovers.

Hawks will aim to avenge two earlier defeats when they play host to Kingstone Press Championship One leaders York City Knights (3pm).

And second spot in the Championship will be on the line as injury-hit Rovers visit Halifax (3pm).

Hawks have lost at home and away to York this year and it is a game they must win to have any hope of finishing as league leaders. “They have got the upper hand on us,” Hunslet coach Barry Eaton admitted. “The game at home could have gone either way. We let them get too far in front, then we came with an outstanding rally and just ran out of time. If the game had gone on a few minutes longer we would probably have won. Away, it was a freak result and a freak performance. Everything we did went wrong and everything they did turned to gold. Hopefully we will put that behind us and come up with a performance this time.” Hooker Liam Hood is included in Hawks’ squad – despite signing for Salford Red Devils on a contract due to begin next season – and this week’s recruits Richard Moore and James Duckworth will also feature.

Meanwhile, Hawks beat yesterday’s Championship One registration deadline to sign former Leeds Rhinos academy and York City Knights back-row forwarder Luke Hardbottle, from Central Newcastle in Australia. Hardbottle, 25, will return to this country in September and has signed for the rest of this season, plus 2015.

Leeds Rhinos season ticket holders are being offered admission to tomorrow’s game for a cut-price £8 if they present their pass at the Hawks office. Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “For our fans who can’t make the trip to London it is a great opportunity to go and support Hunslet in a crucial game.”

Meanwhile, Rovers coach Andy Hay accepts tomorrow’s game will “go along way towards” settling who finishes as runners-up to Leigh Centurions in the second tier table.

But he warned: “We have two tough games coming up after it, against Sheffield Eagles and Keighley Cougars. If we win it’s just a step on the journey for us, but if we don’t win it would make it very difficult because we’d be waiting for Halifax to get beaten.”

Rovers are on the back of a 48-18 defeat at Leigh nine days ago, but Hay said: “That wasn’t a bad performance. The players put 100 per cent effort into it and we are pretty confident going into this one.”

Rovers’ Gareth Moore has been charged with Grade B striking in game at Leigh and will miss the visit of Sheffield on August 31 if he submits an early guilty plea.

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