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Barrow Raiders 18-31 York Knights - Match Report

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York Knights booked their place in the Betfred Championship Play-Offs after a thrilling 31-18 final day win over Barrow Raiders at the Matt Johnson Prestige Stadium.

Oli Field and Ronan Michael struck in the space of five minutes around the half-hour mark to give York a 12-0 lead at the break.

AJ Towse produced a marvellous finish for an 18-0 lead early in the second period before Ryan Johnston and Andrew Bulman scores put Barrow right back in the contest.

Ukuma Ta’ai reasserted the two-score margin until Tom Wilkinson once again cut the gap to set up a nervy final quarter of an hour.

The Knights showed wily game management however, with Liam Harris putting over a drop-goal before Brenden Santi wrapped up the two points and with a Play-Offs berth following Halifax Panthers’ defeat at home to Swinton Lions.

A 10th win from York’s last 11 league matches took the Knights up to sixth in the table, marking a stunning turnaround, having been fighting at the bottom-end of the Betfred Championship table midway through this season.

While Andrew Henderson’s side had everything to play for, Barrow went into the contest with their safety already assured.

Despite that, the Raiders conjured a battling showing, going set-for-set with York through a scoreless first 25 minutes until Field’s deadlock-breaking try, the second-rower profiting from a Jesse Dee short ball.

Michael followed the second-rower across the line just five minutes later after a couple of fine offloads by Jordan Thompson and Joe Brown.

Harris converted the latter - his first of four conversions from five attempts - before adding a penalty goal on the stroke of half-time after Barrow jumped early out of marker on Will Jubb, who made his 150th Knights appearance.

York picked up where they left off in the second half, Dee’s bullet cut-out pass finding Towse in the left corner with little room, though that did not prevent the winger producing a magnificent finish for his 20th try of the season.

Trailing 18-0, Barrow quickly found themselves back in the game when Brown could not catch a Jarrod Sammut chip, allowing Johnston to ground in the in-goal before Jarrod Stack sent Bulman streaking away from halfway.

Ta’ai replied with a strong drive past Barrow’s tryline defence but the lead was back to just six when Wilkinson twisted over the whitewash.

The Knights held their cool in the dying stages though, Harris showing nerves of steel to land a drop-goal after Pauli Pauli was held up, with the celebrations truly starting when Santi barged over from Jubb’s drop-off pass.

Barrow: Cresswell, Bulman, Broadbent, Toal, Shaw, Jackson, Johnston, Billington, Wood, Worthington, Stack, Emslie, Wilkinson

Subs (all used): Corkill, Carter, Saunders, Sammut

Tries: Johnston (51’), Bulman (54’), Wilkinson (66’)

Goals: Shaw (3/3)

York: Brown, Towse, Clarkson, Harrison, Bass, Dee, Harris, Santi, Jubb, Ta’ai, Field, Kirmond, Thompson

Subs (all used): Fitzsimmons, Michael, Pauli, Pemberton

Tries: Field (28’), Michael (33’), Towse (43’), Ta’ai (63’), Santi (76’)

Goals: Harris (5/6)

Drop-Goals: Harris (74’)

Geoff Pryce Player of the Match in partnership with Isaac Poad Beer: Jordan Thompson


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