The Knights’ season ended at Leigh Sports Village this afternoon with a 70-10 defeat to the much-fancied Leigh Centurions, the victors advancing to next weekend’s Million Pound Game.
With a number of first-team players absent through injury – added to by the suspended Danny Kirmond – the Knights were up against it from the start and, when Blake Ferguson opened the scoring with his first of three tries in the third minute, the scale of the task was clear.
Earlier this season, James Ford’s Knights were hit with a 100-4 defeat by Leigh and, with the depleted line-up, the vocal travelling support must have feared the same.
Those in York shirts chanced their arm, testing out the League Leaders’ Shield-winning Centurions with a sometimes unconventional approach, couldn’t quite make moves stick. Matty Marsh – in the halves after Jamie Ellis’ injury picked up against Halifax – was the key to that, Joe Mellor retrieving to gather a hack forward with our number one looking dangerous – and centre Ed Chamberlain was able to tackle after a chip over.
Back-rower Sam Stone – the Centurions’ Man of the Match, scored the second before Nene Macdonaldn and Caleb Aekins quelled the Knights’ growing momentum. Chamberlain added his name to the try-scoring list before the ever-impressive Edwin Ipape – a constant threat again – scored a brace in the dying moments of the first period.
With a forty-point deficit at the interval, the Knights were very much on the back foot and both Ferguson and Macdonald scored their second tries of the afternoon in the opening ten minutes of the second half. Ferguson went onto complete his hat-trick before Kai O’Donnell crashed over in the left channel from close range.
Leading by sixty-four, the Knights could have folded but the impressive Marsh got the Knights on the board. The ball was worked to the left and the half-back showed the pass to create a space and slammed the ball down emphatically.
After Aekins scored his second from Lachlan Lam’s neat third-play kick, the Knights scored a second of the game and reached double digits after Liam Harris converted Marcus Stock’s try. The forward ran a great line and Super Tommy Inman – eye-catching again off the interchange bench – fed Stock and he touched down.
Both Knights scores saw the team cheered as they returned to their positions by the home supporters and, while defeated, the scenes following the full-time hooter between the players and travelling faithful showed the respect for the efforts of those on the pitch and in the stand.
2022, over and out.
Leigh Centurions: Caleb Aekins, Blake Ferguson, Ed Chamberlain, Nene Macdonald, Krisnan Inu, Lachlan Lam, Joe Mellor, Adam Sidlow, Aaron Smith, Tom Amone, Joe Wardle, Sam Stone, John Asiata.
Interchanges: Edwin Ipape, Ben Nakubuwai, Kai O’Donnell, Ben Reynolds
Tries: Ferguson (3’, 45’, 52’), Stone (14’), Macdonald (19’, 48’), Aekins (28’, 71’), Chamberlain (33’), Ipape (36’, 38’), O’Donnell (63’), Aekins (71’)
Conversions: Inu (11/12)
York City Knights: Matty Marsh, Joe Brown, James Glover, Jacob Ogden, AJ Towse, Liam Harris, Matty Marsh, Ronan Dixon, Will Jubb, Jack Teanby, Chris Clarkson, Bailey Antrobus, Jordan Thompson.
Interchanges: Tom Inman, Ronan Michael, Marcus Stock, Joe Porter
Tries: Marsh (67’), Stock (73’)
Conversions: Harris (1/2)