York City Knights made it five wins from seven at the start of the Betfred Championship season with this afternoon’s 18-44 victory over Workington Town at Derwent Park.
After a weekend off, James Ford made two changes to the matchday seventeen that emphatically dispatched Widnes Vikings a fortnight ago with Kriss Brining and Joe Porter coming into the seventeen with Roman Dixon and Jamie Ellis dropping out, the latter due to a minor hamstring issue.
Liam Harris, named on the bench last time out, came into the starting thirteen with Brining included from the bench and it was the half-back who opened the scoring with the Knights’ first attack of the afternoon.
After dealing with Workington’s opening set, the Knights marched upfield and Harris ghosted through a gap in the right channel to cross for his second league try of the season. The former Halifax man converted his own try to extend the lead after just three minutes.
Ten minutes later, and following on from dealing with repeat sets for our Cumbrian hosts, Jordan Thompson extended the lead when he powered over from close range.
In the twentieth minute, Joe Brown was the beneficiary of great work down the short side from the Knights’ attack. Moved to the left wing to combat the aerial threat of Alex Young, he received a pass from centre Levi Edwards after Will Jubb darted down the left from dummy-half. He got Edwards through a gap and, after drawing in the full-back, the Leeds loanee passed onto Brown to cross for our third try. Harris, however, couldn’t convert either.
Nevertheless, the Knights led 0-14 after the first quarter.
In the twenty-eighth minute, Edwards got his own name on the scoresheet after great play from O’Hagan. Harris’ grubber to the in-goal looked set to go dead in goal but the Australian half-back leapt acrobatically to tap it back into play. Edwards was the first to react and he scored his second Knights try to give Ford’s men a commanding lead following Harris’ second conversion.
Leading 0-20 at the break, the Knights will have been confident of completing the job but Workington started the second half the better. A short kick off saw the hosts come up with possession and half-back Carl Forber went close.
Workington forced several repeat sets, both through their skill and Knights errors, before ultimately scoring the opening points of the second period when Matthew Henson barged over from dummy-half. Forber converted to narrow the gap but the Knights immediately hit back to re-establish the healthy lead.
In the forty-eighth minute – and after a brief break in play with a Workington man down injured – the ball was worked from left to right with Jordan Thompson and Harris involved. It ended up with winger Brad Ward who excellently offloaded out of the tackle to find James Glover. The centre carried with pace and power and proved too strong for the hosts’ defence, grounding to hit back. Harris converted to leave the score at 6-26 approaching the fiftieth minute.
The hosts would then take the ascendency and really make Ford and his men think approaching the final quarter of the match with two quickfire tries.
First, Henson found his way over once again from dummy-half and Workington went back-to-back when Forber benefitted from great work from Luke Broadbent to narrow the gap to, after converting both, just eight points.
The Knights, dominant throughout apart from that ten minute spell, would have to dig deep to shift the momentum and dig deep they did to then stop Workington scoring further points while adding three more tries of their own.
Just after the hour mark, a wide kick from O’Hagan saw an aerial challenge between Brown and Young and the Workington man – brother of Newcastle Knights star Dom – was deemed to have knocked on five metres from his own line.
Straight from the scrum, the ball was spun by Jubb straight to Harris who, similar to his effort in the opening minutes of Sunday’s encounter, found his way through a gap to dampen the home supporters’ spirits. The scorer converted his own effort to make it 18-32.
Hooker Jubb, then, put the game beyond doubt. Picking the ball up from dummy-half just over ten metres out, eyes up rugby saw him go from right to left before going over under the sticks, Harris again converting again.
In the final minute, Glover added a gloss to the final score with his second of the afternoon after play was worked from the middle of the pitch to the right. Glover exchanged passes with Ward who, after breaking down the right, passed inside for the centre to score. Harris converted to leave the Knights with a healthy 18-44 victory, one which could have been very different had Ford’s men not shown the solidity and resilience to bounce back from a tough period part way through the second half.
WORKINGTON TOWN: Luke Broadbent, Alex Young, Joe Brown, Zac Olstrom, Alex Clegg, Jamie Doran, Carl Forber, Conor Fitzsimmons, Evan Simons, Jordan Thomson, Malik Steele, Caine Barnes, Marcus O’Brien.
INTERCHANGES: Matthew Henson, Rhys Clarke, John Hutchings, Perry Singleton
TRIES: Matthew Henson (44’, 57’), Carl Forber (60’)
GOALS: Carl Forber (3/3)
YORK CITY KNIGHTS: Matty Marsh, Joe Brown, James Glover, Levi Edwards, Brad Ward, Brendan O’Hagan, Liam Harris, Masi Matongo, Will Jubb, Pauli Pauli, Danny Kirmond, Chris Clarkson, Jordan Thompson.
INTERCHANGES: Kriss Brining, Marcus Stock, Jack Teanby, Joe Porter
TRIES: Liam Harris (3’, 64’), Jordan Thompson (13’), Joe Brown (20’), Levi Edwards (28’), James Glover (48’, 80’), Will Jubb (69’)
GOALS: Liam Harris (6/8)
GEOFF PRYCE MAN OF THE MATCH, IN PARTNERSHIP WITH ISAAC POAD BREWING: Liam Harris – DNS Hull