THE scene is set for a classic when Queens face Pennine League rivals Drighlington on Sunday in an all-Leeds Yorkshire Cup final – but one of the teams came close to pulling out.
Queens coach Richard Milner admitted that the farce surrounding his side’s semi-final has soured the competition and their achievement of reaching the last two.
The final, at Featherstone Rovers’ Big Fellas Stadium (2pm), was due to be played over the Christmas period, but was delayed due to December’s freezing weather which prevented Queens’ semi-final against Crigglestone All Blacks from being staged.
Then when the thaw set in Crigglestone forfeited the tie, claiming they couldn’t raise a team.
“To be honest, if I had my way we wouldn’t have played the final,” Milner said. “I think what happened with Crigglestone in the semi-final made a mockery of it.”
Milner claimed he was told in advance – at the time of the first postponement – that All Blacks would not fulfil the fixture.
“I don’t think they wanted to play us,” he claimed. “It spoiled the enjoyment of getting to the final.”
But now they are in it, Milner said the aim is to win. Queens are the National Cup holders and the coach said: “There’s only two major trophies you can win.
“We have got one of them and it would be nice to have them both.”
Of Drighlington, Milner said: “They are a good team and are very well coached.
“I am hoping the training that Micky Vann (conditioner) has been doing with the team will come out and that we can go and play to the best of our ability.
“If we do that, I don’t think we will be far away. But if they play to their best they won’t be far away either – it has got the makings of a good game.”
A mean defence has been the foundation of Queens’ run to Sunday’s final.
In their four ties so far they have conceded only 19 points, beating Keighley Albion 40-0, Beverley 74-1, Siddal A 34-12 and Skirlaugh Bulls 72-6.
It will be Queens’ first Yorkshire Cup final appearance since their 24-8 win over Sharlston Rovers in 2007-2008. Drighlington last reached the final three seasons earlier, beating Elland 22-12.
Drig began their cup campaign with an 118-2 rout of Harehills, before beating Hull Wyke 36-6, Hunslet Old Boys 20-6, Fryston Warriors 31-14 and holders Sharlston Rovers 42-6 in the semi-final.
Queens will start as favourites, but Drig coach Chris Burton – who is assisted by former Batley boss Paul Storey – is confident his side will give a good account of themselves.
Ex-Hunslet Hawks full-back Nathan Larvin and former Featherstone Rovers prop Andy Jarrett provide the experience in a young team and Burton said: “It would be nice to pick up a trophy.
“We are still in the National Cup and the Pennine League Cup; the only one we’re not in is the Challenge Cup.
“We are struggling a bit in the league because we’ve only played four games, but our focus at the moment is on Sunday.
“We are looking forward to it and it would be massive for the club as a whole if we won it.”
Burton is aware of the challenge facing his team. He said: “Queens are a quality side.
“They are big, strong and physical and we will have to play well, but I think we have got a good squad ourselves.”