IMPROVING HUNSLET can take a giant step towards a place in the Kingstone Press League One Shield final when they visit North Wales Crusaders tomorrow (2.30pm).
Hunslet have won their opening two games and are top of the table, three points clear of London Skolars.
North Wales are third on points difference and Gloucestershire All Golds, who are a further point behind, are the only other team with a realistic chance of finishing in the top-two.
The leading pair after the seven additional fixtures will contest the final, with the table-toppers having home advantage.
North Wales finished the regular season in ninth place, but have lost their first two Shield fixtures.
“It is a big game for us,” said Hunslet coach Gary Thornton.
“North Wales have taken a bit of a dive since they finished above us in the regular season, but we can’t take it lightly.
“They will be tough on their own patch, they will want to get a home win and get back in contention.”
Thornton said Hunslet are not treating tomorrow as a make-or-break match.
He insisted: “We are taking it game by game, we can’t look too far forward from this one.
“We will get it out of the way and move on to the next one.
“We are confident, but we have got to be on our guard. Our attitude is important and we have got to make sure we are better than we were last week.
“We weren’t great against Oxford and we have got to improve in certain areas.”
Hunslet are on a three-game winning run and have lost only one of their last five.
“We said we’d give everyone an opportunity in the Shield,” Thornton said. “It is all about planning for next year and looking at which players we’d like to keep and who will be released.
“We want to give the players an opportunity to show what they are all about, but we also want to win it.
“We have got a lot of players of similar ability so if we make changes people can come in and do as good a job.”
Crusaders have confirmed the game will go ahead at their usual Queensway base after initially fearing they would have to find an alternative venue due to an athletics meeting at the stadium.