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Report: Featherstone 30-22 Knights


York City Knights delivered a much-improved performance but fell to defeat at Featherstone Rovers’ Millenium Stadium this afternoon, the hosts taking the two Betfred Championship points after a 30-22 win.

The Knights went into the game off the back of three consecutive defeats against Play-Off rivals and, after last week’s poor display against Batley Bulldogs, a response was required.

James Ford’s absence-hit squad certainly delivered that. With the likes of Chris Clarkson, Masi Matongo and Bailey Antrobus joining the likes of Matty Marsh, Will Oakes and Jamie Ellis on the sidelines.

The summer conditions from previous weeks were replaced with rain and wind this afternoon but, despite that, the Knights started the better with teenager AJ Towse scoring his eighth try of the season.

Ten metres out, hooker Will Jubb fired left to Brendan O’Hagan and, when the half-back darted through a gap on the left channel, he provided the in-form Towse with the easiest of finishes.

Featherstone, though, hit back with three tries in fourteen minutes to establish a commanding lead halfway through the first period. Powerful forward Gadwin Springer scored their first, going over under the sticks, before Matty Wildie and Jack Bussey went over from close-range. Centre Craig Hall converted each of the three and each team then entered a spell where handling errors littered the game, with very little happening for ten minutes apart from possession changing hands.

In the dying embers of the first period, however, the Knights hit back to narrow the deficit just before half-time.

Powerhouse forward Pauli Pauli drew in tacklers and, sensing an opportunity, full-back Joe Brown gave him some support. Pauli duly found the offload and, after rounding opposite number Jack Broadbent, Brown forced his way to the line just to the side of the sticks.

James Glover, with Liam Harris off the field for a head injury assessment, converted his first two-pointer for the Knights and the teams went into the sheds with the hosts holding an eight-point lead.

That was whittled down further in the opening moments of the second period when the Knights’ other teenage winger produced an outstanding finish. Similarities between Towse’s eye-catching effort were drawn after Brad Ward, back in the team for the first time since our away victory over Workington, produced an outstanding finish after Harris threw a pinpoint pass over the hosts’ defence. The half-back added the two and the Knights were very much back in the game.

Featherstone, though, wrestled back control after the Knights failed to deal with the kick-off. Craig Hall kicked a two-pointer with the Knights penalised twenty from our own line before Connor Jones and former Knight Tom Lineham scored quickfire tries to almost take the game out of reach for the Knights, the hosts leading by fourteen with twenty minutes remaining.

Despite their best efforts, the Knights were only able to score one further try when O’Hagan dummied before darting through the Featherstone line to score his sixth Championship try of the campaign. Harris added the two to make it 30-22 with seven minutes remaining and that is how the scoreboard read at the full-time hooter.

It was certainly a much-improved showing from Monday’s defeat to Batley and, with a tough month of consecutive fixtures against Play-Off rivals now behind them, Ford will be keen to see his team build some form approaching the end-of-season series, starting next weekend against Newcastle Thunder at Summer Bash.

FEATHERSTONE LINE-UP: Jack Broadbent, Luke Briscoe, Joey Leilua, Craig Hall, Tom Lineham, Morgan Smith, Ryley Jacks, Junior Moors, Matty Wildie, Gadwin Springer, Brett Ferres, Josh Hardcastle, Jack Bussey.

INTERCHANGES: Connor Jones, John Davies, Sam Eseh, Luke Cooper

TRIES: Springer (9’), Wildie (13’), Bussey (23’), Jones (56’), Lineham (59’)

CONVERSIONS: Hall (4/5)

PENALTIES: Hall (54’)

KNIGHTS LINE-UP: Joe Brown, Brad Ward, James Glover, Levi Edwards, AJ Towse, Brendan O’Hagan, Liam Harris, Pauli Pauli, Will Jubb, Ronan Michael, Danny Kirmond, Jacob Ogden, Jordan Thompson.

INTERCHANGES: Tom Inman, Ronan Dixon, Jack Teanby, Joe Porter

TRIES: Towse (5’), Brown (39’), Ward (45’), O’Hagan (73’)

CONVERSIONS: Harris (2/3), Glover (1/1)

GEOFF PRYCE MAN OF THE MATCH: Joe Brown – Purple Chilli Events

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