Preview: M’baraga confident Stags can get back on track against York

Eddie M'baraga in action for Stags
Eddie M'baraga in action for Stags

Hemel Stags are preparing to return to action on Sunday, when they entertain York City Knights in an intriguing Kingstone Press Championship 1 clash at the Pennine Way stadium.

Eddie M’Baraga, in marauding form all season, took time out from his busy training schedule to explain how last weekend’s break has allowed the team a chance to regroup.

“The break has done us good but also left is chomping at the bit to have an opportunity to correct the errors made in the last game,” he said.

“Training has been intense this week and I am feeling excited about getting back on the horse after a tough encounter against Hunslet.

“I’m sure we can anticipate another tough physical game against York. We shall show York the respect they deserve, but not too much, and it is certainly a game I feel we can win and get back on the winning track.

W”e went close against them up in York in early May and barring a few errors we should have won.”

Hemel lost out in a fiery contest at Hunslet Hawks in their last fixture and the effervescent M’Baraga believes the team has learned some lessons from that defeat in Yorkshire.

“We learnt a lot about ourselves against Hunslet and need to start well and not let the opposition get a foothold before we start playing,” he said.

“Even after the loss however, all of the lads remain totally confident we can beat any side in this division if we play smart and to our potential.”

M’Baraga concludes by hoping for a good turnout by the Hemel Stags faithful on Sunday.

“I hope to see as many fans inside the ground as there were here for the last home fixture against Oldham as they can make the difference.

“As a team, we all seem able to find a higher gear when there is a great crowd cheering us on.”

Stags coach Troy Perkins is without suspended duo Aaron Small and Romaine Navarette for Sunday’s showdown with the table topping Knights.

Ben Young is also missing with a fractured wrist, but Perkins remains confident.

He said: “We’re down on troops, but we’re playing at home and I was encouraged by how we went against Hunslet. We’ve just got to stay in the battle this week.”

On York, Perkins added: “They’re a good team and where they’re sitting on the table proves that.

“Their outside backs are important to them; they get in and take some early carries, so we’ve got to combat that and slow down those first few plays.”

Knights coach Gary Thornton could be boosted by the returns of Jack Aldous, Lee Paterson, Benn Hardcastle and Ryan Mallinder. Iain Morrison (arm) is a slight doubt.

Thornton said: “We were poor the last time we played Hemel, but we’ve improved since then.

“However, they will have also improved. They’ve had more time together and played together more often. We know this will be a difficult test.”