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YMCA RU.

Byline: avid Lockwood ,

Hope springs eternal - and after YMCA's stunning victory at York, top official Martin Hunt can see some light at the end of what has been a very dark tunnel.

York had been the only side to really thump YM this season, romping to a 43-12 Yorkshire I win at Laund Hill in October.

So the element of revenge added to the simple delight of chalking up a 50-14 triumph in last Saturday's return.

"It was the best performance by a YMCA side for two or three seasons," said former prop Hunt, who is now chairman of selectors.

"Considering the only new player from the first half of the season was (flanker) Simon Bowker, it was difficult to believe the performance at York came from the same players who were involved in the first game."

YM, who were tackling leaders Sheffield Tigers at home today, still remain second-bottom - and deep in trouble.

But Hunt insisted: "If they continue to play with as much skill and enthusiasm as they demonstrated last week, all is most certainly not lost.

"Going forward, they are going to give any side trouble now we seem to have a pretty settled backs line-up.

"And our tackling has shown significant signs of improvement."

Being able to field a settled side for the last three games has certainly been a benefit.

Prop Brad Dobson has played some of the best rugby of his career, forming a very solid front-row unit with Darren McSwiney and hooker Andy Nunns.

Behind them, a slimmed-down Simon Whitehead is starting to prove a real handful at lock, while Kevin Hellawell has also rediscovered bright form, particularly in securing line-out ball.

Newcomer Bowker is a busy forager at wing- forward, while Kiwi player-coach Malakai Koloamatangi and No8 Neil Walker provide the muscle and aggression at the back of the pack.

But the crucial difference has come at stand-off, where another Kiwi, Aleni Luteru, is coming into his own.

Having arrived at the start of the season needing match fitness and being played in a variety of positions, he now looks a formidable proposition.

A very powerful man, he takes a lot of stopping as he runs directly at defenders rather than at an angle.

A frequent beneficiary of his offloads is compatriot Mava Iosefa, the inside-centre with whom he has developed a good understanding.

Luteru also provides skipper and centre Stuart Morton and full-back David Rees with the space to utilise their pace.

With the additional boost of the return of experienced utility back Tim Horner, there are more reasons to be cheerful for Hunt - and the loyal YM supporters.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jan 28, 2006
Words:438
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