The Knights fell to defeat at the hands of rivals Bradford Bulls in an ill-tempered affair at the LNER Community Stadium with the West Yorkshiremen leaving after a 16-20 victory.
Off the back of a win at Dewsbury last weekend, Head Coach James Ford was able to welcome back Jack Teanby and Danny Kirmond, the latter a week after the passing of his brother. Teanby’s return after an absence under concussion protocols saw him come onto the bench and half-backs Liam Harris and Ata Hingano switched their positions from last week with the Tongan starting his first game for the Knights.
After the heavens opened amid thunder and lightning beforehand, the teams emerged as conditions settled with Chris Clarkson and Pauli Pauli, on their 300th and 150th career matches, respectively, entering through a guard of honour.
In the opening five minutes, it was Bradford who opened the scoring when, from a tidy close-range grubber, AJ Wallace grounded for Elliot Kear to convert.
Minutes later, the scores were levelled, though, with Will Jubb forcing his way over with a barge over. James Glover, taking the kicking duties with Liam Harris on the bench, nailed the conversion.
Kear kicked a penalty just after to put the Bulls back into the lead before one of the first flare ups of the match arrived in the fifteenth minute. Pauli Pauli, just after being penalised for a high tackle, was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle on Ebon Scurr. The Knights players, coaches and supporters were dumbfounded and Bradford seemed set to capitalise on the advantage when George Flanagan received a pass after good work from Kieran Gill to extend the Bulls’ lead.
The Knights, though, would get back to thirteen men after levelling the period they were down to twelve after Matty Marsh, a constant threat in the first half, ghosted through a hole in the Bulls’ rearguard. Glover’s conversion left the Knights two points adrift but, with Bradford aided by further penalties from referee Liam Rush, hit back in the 37th minute when young half-back Myles Lawford scored from dummy-half.
With the clock counting down in the first half, the Knights hit back to score a third with what would prove to not only be the finest score of the game but the final one as well.
Full-back Marsh returned a kick brilliantly, dancing through tackles to get into Bradford’s half. The ball was then worked right and, when Kirmond hit a great line to get his arms through a tackle, he found the pass to Glover who, in turn, fed winger Joe Brown who went over in the corner against his former club. Glover couldn’t knock over the two but the Knights had narrowed the half-time deficit to four points.
That, however, was all either team could muster and, despite going close several times, the Knights were repelled through Bradford’s defensive efforts and a questionable call or two.
One of those came when Marsh had a try dubiously ruled out for double-movement, an incident that led to both sets of players rushing in with Marsh and Bradford winger Matty Dawson-Jones being sent for ten.
A concern for the Knights late on saw Pauli leave proceedings with a knee injury with further information to come in the coming weeks. York, despite defeat, are almost certain of a Play-Off spot with a single win needed from our final four matches to guarantee a place in the top six.
York City Knights Line-Up: Matty Marsh, Joe Brown, James Glover, Jacob Ogden, AJ Towse, Brendan O’Hagan, Ata Hingano, Pauli Pauli, Will Jubb, Ronan Michael, Danny Kirmond, Chris Clarkson, Jordan Thompson.
Interchanges: Liam Harris, Jack Teanby, Ronan Dixon, Bailey Antrobus
Tries: Jubb (9’), Marsh (25’), Brown (40’)
Sin-bin: Pauli (15’), Marsh (55‘)
Bradford Bulls Line-Up: Elliot Kear, Matty Dawson-Jones, Rhys Evans, Kieran Gill, Ryan Millar, Myles Lawford, Sam Hallas, Steve Crossley, George Flanagan, Ebon Scurr, Chester Butler, AJ Wallace, Aaron Murphy
Interchanges: Thomas Doyle, Jacob Gannon, Ant Walker, Brad England
Tries: Wallace (5’), Flanagan (20’), Lawford (37’)
Penalties: Kear (13’)
Sin-bin: Dawson-Jones (55’)
Geoff Pryce Man of the Match: Danny Kirmond – Gough & Kelly