The Knights secured back-to-back victories in the Betfred Championship at The Tetley’s Stadium with a 22-10 win over relegation-threatened Dewsbury Rams.
Going into the match off the back of last weekend’s Summer Bash victory over Newcastle Thunder, Head Coach James Ford was able to call upon new signing Ata Hingano for the first time. The Tongan half-back was named on the bench with the pairing of Brendan O’Hagan and Liam Harris preferred from the start.
A tough first-half saw very few breaks in play with both sides engaged in a battle of attrition. While the Knights dominated the territory, scrambling defence from the Rams held up several efforts for the try-line, frustrating the Knights.
It wasn’t until the half-hour mark that pressure began to tell, with half-back Liam Harris breaking the deadlock.
Without much by way of deception or shape, the former Halifax man ghosted his way through a sizeable gap that opened up through the middle of the pitch, going over under the sticks before converting his own effort.
It looked as though that would see the Knights through to the break in the lead but, after Dewsbury were awarded a dubious penalty from a Pauli Pauli tackle, they were able to find the try-line. Half-backs Dom Speakman and Pauli Sykes linked up nicely and found back-rower Connor Davies running a great line, the forward crashing over from close-range. Sykes, on his 500th career game, levelled up the scores as the hooter sounded.
The Knights, likely smarting from a tough half-time team talk, started the second period well and, when Dewsbury failed to deal with James Glover’s kick off, field position was held for around ten minutes with those in amber and white setting up camp in the Rams’ half.
Like the first half, Dewsbury’s defence was able to hold up several efforts but after a superb O’Hagan forty-twenty, the newly introduced Hingano looked to have scored with his first Knights touch. Despite being held up, moments later a similar play saw the former Canberra man score his first York try.
Glover was unable to convert but, five minutes later, more good play saw Matty Marsh score his second try in as many matches. O’Hagan and Hingano linked up neatly, the latter finding a tidy offload to Marsh, the full-back gathering before diving low and early to ground the ball. Glover’s conversion gave the Knights a ten-point lead.
Dewsbury, though, were not done fighting and hit back on the hour mark with Lewis Carr diving over in the corner after the Rams produced arguably their best play of the game.
Trailing by six after Sykes’ missed conversion, the Rams wouldn’t let the Knights rest and threatened a handful of times in the final fifteen minutes with their play getting more desperate. The Knights defence stood firm and an outstanding play from Marcus Stock – playing in the back-row – set the platform to kill the game in the last minute.
Running across the field on the reverse from an O’Hagan pass, the forward found a gap through the middle before producing an excellent offload to the supporting Marsh. The Knights full-back rounded his opposite number to ground to the right of the sticks, his second of the afternoon killing the game.
Glover’s second conversion sealed the victory and, with it, puts the Knights ten points clear of the chasing pack in the Play-Off race. With just five games remaining of the regular season, the Knights’ return to the Play-Offs is all but secure.
Dewsbury Rams Line-Up: Jake Sweeting, Lewis Carr, Keenen Tomlinson, Ollie Greensmith, Brad Graham, Paul Sykes, Dom Speakman, Jackson Walker, Reiss Butterworth, Jon-Luke Kirby, Connor Davies, Michael Knowles, Ben Mathiou
Interchanges: Robson Stevens, Jack Blagbrough, Jimmy Beckett, Jordan Schofield
Tries: Davies (39’), Carr (60’)
Goals: Sykes (1/2)
York City Knights Line-Up: Matty Marsh, Joe Brown, James Glover, Jacob Ogden, AJ Towse, Brendan O’Hagan, Liam Harris, Pauli Pauli, Will Jubb, Ronan Michael, Marcus Stock, Chris Clarkson, Jordan Thompson.
Interchanges: Ata Hingano, Ronan Dixon, Bailey Antrobus, Joe Porter
Tries: Harris (33’), Hingano (50’), Marsh (55’, 77’)
Goals: Harris (1/1), Glover (2/3)
Geoff Pryce Man of the Match: Matty Marsh – Sancus Utilities