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Report: Batley 4-12 Knights


In years to come, the performance James Ford’s Knights team put in at the home of Batley Bulldogs on 13th February 2022 will be one remembered for all the right reasons.

Right out of the top drawer, the Knights recorded the first victory a York side has experienced at the Bulldogs since 2000, recording a 4-10 victory against a Betfred Championship play-off rival – a performance that saw every single player in a Knights shirt stand up to be counted.

To say conditions were challenging would be an understatement. Consistent rain all the way up until kick-off made an already heavy pitch challenging for both teams and, within five minutes, it was tricky to identify the players, such was the amount of mud on the pitch.

The Knights, after losing the toss, played down the infamous slope at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium and went in at the break with a six point lead.

Following an early 40/20 kick from the outstanding Jamie Ellis, the platform was set for the opening try of a bruising encounter when Ireland international Ronan Michael, on loan from Super League’s Huddersfield Giants, powered his way over from close range for his first try in Knights colours. Ellis knocked over the two points and, despite his team’s best efforts, that would end the scoring of the first half.

Excellent Knights defence restricted Batley’s best efforts throughout the first forty, with a handful of errors forced with the hosts deep within our territory, with the goal-line efforts from Ford’s men proving too tough for Craig Lingard’s Bulldogs to break through.

However, at the break, many in the stadium felt that a six point lead wouldn’t be enough with the hosts set to travel down the slope in the second forty.

With their tails up, the hosts set up camp in the Knights’ half in the early stages of the second period. Knock ons proved costly for Batley with several players coughing up possession in dangerous areas for Lingard’s men, and it would only be in the 65th minute when the hosts got on the scoreboard.

Five minutes after James Brown and Will Oakes were sent to the sin-bin for Batley and the Knights, respectively, back-rower Lucas Walshaw powered over to get the hosts within two points. Half-back Tom Gilmore, however, was unable to kick a crucial – and kickable – conversion, with the Knights leading by two points with fifteen minutes remaining.

Pauli Pauli, rather quiet throughout, then made his class tell when he played a key role in the game-breaking moment.

With both sides back up to thirteen men following the two sin-binnings, Joe Brown reacted first to a loose ball around halfway and ran the Knights deep into the hosts’ territory on our right flank. A couple of tackles later, the ball was worked left to Matty Marsh – in at half-back with Brendan O’Hagan omitted – who fed Pauli. Drawing in the centre and winger, a lovely flick pass out of the back of his left hand was perfect for Oakes to take at pace and finish smartly in the corner.

That try sent the Knights’ bench – and travelling fans – into raptures and, even with Ellis failing to convert from the touchline, the six point lead would prove enough for the Knights to seal victory.

Typifying the fighting spirit now clearly present among the Knights squad, a late kick from Ellis that bounced over opposite full-back Luke Hooley’s head saw centre James Glover sprint ahead of his teammates to ensure that the Bulldogs had to start one of their final sets from within their forty.

When Batley did get upfield, they sought to work the ball wide to the right with former Knight Perry Whiteley waiting. A knock on from the centre inside sparked celebrations from everyone associated with the Knights and, when the full time hooter sounded after some up the jumper rugby from Ford’s men, the celebrations showed just how much this win meant.

Now with two wins from three at the start of our Betfred Championship campaign, Ford and his team will be keen to continue their form into a third weekend when much-fancied Leigh Centurions visit the LNER Community Stadium on Sunday 20th February (3pm KO).

Tickets are available for £20 for Adults, £15 for Concessions and FREE for under-16s! Head to yorkcityknights.com.tickets to get yours today – let’s make the LNER a fortress for the team in 2022!

BATLEY: Luke Hooley, Perry Whiteley, Josh Hodson, George Senior, Dale Morton, Ben White, Tom Gilmore, Adam Gledhill, Ben Kaye, Jack Blagbrough, Kieran Buchanan, Lucas Walshaw, James Brown

INTERCHANGES: Alistair Leak, Michael Ward, Tom Lillycrop, James Meadows.

TRIES: Walshaw (65)

GOALS: None

KNIGHTS: Myles Harrison, Will Oakes, Joe Brown, James Glover, Jack Logan, Matty Marsh, Jamie Ellis, Jordan Thompson, Chris Clarkson, Danny Kirmond, Masi Matongo, Will Jubb, Ronan Michael

INTERCHANGES: Sam Davis, Ronan Dixon, Jack Teanby, Pauli Pauli

TRIES: Michael (5) Oakes (71)

GOALS: Ellis 1/2

GEOFF PRYCE MAN OF THE MATCH, IN PARTNERSHIP WITH ISAAC POAD BREWING: Myles Harrison – Burflex Scaffolding

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