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Report: Halifax 36-10 Knights

The Knights fell to a second consecutive Betfred Championship defeat tonight at Halifax Panthers The Shay Stadium in a battle between two of the competition’s play-off contenders.

Heading to face Simon Grix’s team off the back of last weekend’s loss at home to Barrow Raiders, James Ford’s men were keen to avenge the reverse fixture earlier this season with Halifax leaving the LNER with the two points.

The hosts, however, started the stronger and opened the scoring in the twelfth minute with Lachlan Walmsley – a hat-trick scorer at the LNER – the beneficiary from a move that took the ball from the right edge to left. Joe Keyes, a Knights loanee in 2021, began a near-flawless evening with the kicking tee to convert from the touchline.

Five minutes later, Matty Gee was able to pierce the Knights’ rearguard off the back of a penalty with Dan Murray in support to score under the sticks. Keyes added the two.

After spending ten minutes completely on the back foot, Ford’s men wrestled back an element of control with a penalty helping the team upfield. When Brendan O’Hagan saw Halifax full-back James Woodburn-Hall in the defensive line, he put a kick in looking to exploit the space.

The reactions, however, of the Jamaican international saw him gather the ball from around his knees and race eighty metres. With retreating Knights closing, he gave supporting centre Ben Tibbs the easiest of finishes in the corner and Keyes’ conversion gave the hosts an eighteen-point advantage after twenty-five minutes.

Character is a trait that has often been attributed to the Knights this season and they showed that in spades to recover and arguably finish the first half the stronger. Countless efforts at the goal-line were repelled by the Panthers’ defence, though, and the only Chris Clarkson’s try shortly before the thirty-minute mark off the back of another O’Hagan kick.

Late in the first period, Walmsley pulled off an outstanding cover tackle when O’Hagan had looped a pass to find Joe Brown in space.

Trailing 18-4 at the interval, the Knights were certainly not out of the contest and, early in the second period, Pauli Pauli looked to have narrowed the deficit further only for a try to be disallowed for a knock on.

In truth, the Knights rarely threatened for the remainder of the match with Halifax clearly laying down their promotion credentials.

Shortly before the hour mark, Keyes’ towering kick was caught by Harris but the stand-in full-back was forced into a knock on by Walmsley’s chase. Keyes was first to the ball and found his way to the try-line to take the game away from the Knights.

In the sixty-eighth minute, half-back Louis Jouffret snatched a poacher’s effort from dummy-half, dotting over from close-range before hooker Will Jubb scored the Knights’ second, forcing his way over to the right of the sticks.

Winding the clock down, Keyes opted to kick a penalty goal from in front of the sticks before Walmsley scored his second after a move down the Panthers’ left. Keyes missed his only conversion effort of the evening but the game was long done.

Back to back defeats over play-off rivals put further importance onto next Monday’s Premier Sports live match against Batley Bulldogs, kicking off at 7:45pm at the LNER Community Stadium.

York City Knights Line-Up: Liam Harris, Joe Brown, James Glover, Levi Edwards, AJ Towse, Brendan O’Hagan, Jamie Ellis, Pauli Pauli, Will Jubb, Masi Matongo, Danny Kirmond, Chris Clarkson, Jordan Thompson.

Interchanges: Jack Teanby, Ronan Michael, Bailey Antrobus, Myles Harrison

Tries: Clarkson (29’), Jubb (74’)

Conversions: Ellis (0/1), Harris (1/1)

Halifax Panthers Line-Up: James Woodburn-Hall, James Saltonstall, Joe Arundel, Ben Tibbs, Lachlan Walmsley, Louis Jouffret, Joe Keyes, Adam Tangata, Brandon Moore, Dan Murray, Matt Garside, Ben Kavanagh, Jacob Fairbank.

Interchanges: Kevin Larroyer, Will Calcott, Ed Barber, Kyle Wood

Tries: Walmsley (12’, 80’), Murray (16’), Tibbs (25’), Keyes (54’), Jouffret (68’)

Conversions: Keyes (6/7)

Penalty: Keyes (77’)

Geoff Pryce Man of the Match: Will Jubb – Clinical Technologies


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