York City Knights hit the capital on Saturday for the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup Final against Featherstone Rovers at Wembley Stadium in what is our first trip to the national stadium in ninety years.
Our journey to the final began on 19th March when James Ford’s Knights headed to Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium to face Sheffield Eagles in the first round of the Betfred Challenge Cup, the early rounds of which doubled up as AB Sundecks 1895 Cup ties.
The Knights, fresh off an ambitious pre-season with several high-profile recruits brought in, started quickly against the Eagles with debutant Brendan O’Hagan kicking through within three minutes for winger Perry Whiteley to score his first of two tries on the evening. Sheffield hit back with a Greg Burns try from close range but, with the scores level on 35 minutes, a quickfire Knights double saw Ford’s men hit the front before the break.
Kriss Brining forced his way over from dummy-half before, from kick off, great work from James Green, Joe Porter and Marcus Stock gave full-back Ben Jones-Bishop a free run from fifty out to score on debut. Kieran Dixon converted all three tries and added a penalty on the hooter.
The Knights never looked in danger of losing the game from that position and O’Hagan, impressive throughout, fired a bullet pass to Whiteley to cross for his second before Ryan Atkins scored his first try in Knights colours just before full-time to give the Knights a dream start to the 2021 campaign with a 30-6 victory.
Our reward for that victory was a trip to the capital to face London Broncos and an O’Hagan-inspired Knights would triumph over the capital club at Rosslyn Park to head back to North Yorkshire with a 2-14 victory.
Trailing 4-2 at the break, a Joe Porter try – provided by debutant Adam Cuthbertson’s pass – early in the second half saw the Knights hit the front. The team stood firm in defence and Liam Salter’s late try clinched victory.
That saw the Knights reach the third round of the Betfred Challenge Cup and semi-final of the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup.
In the Challenge Cup, Wigan Warriors at home was the tie on a Friday night. A depleted Knights side ultimately fell to defeat, the Betfred Super League team securing a 26-0 win with Jackson Hastings on form, but a semi-final with a chance to play at Wembley was on the cards.
Sunday June 6th at the LNER Community Stadium, in one of the first matches in our new home with fans in attendance, saw Swinton Lions visit North Yorkshire. Ford’s men started fast with a headguarded Liam Salter running through the visitors’ line to open the scoring.
Swinton fast hit back, with tries from Ronan Michael and Mike Butt putting the Knights behind on the scoreboard, but a great Marcus Stock try came before Ryan Atkins crashed over shortly before the half-time hooter.
Despite leading, the Knights were made to work hard by the Lions and, after Kriss Brining and Danny Kirmond crossed, Butt crossed for a second to keep the Knights in range for Swinton.
That, though, came before a moment of magic from loanee half-back Mikey Lewis pounced on a loose ball to go the length of the field – showing a great turn of pace in the process – to seal victory for the Knights. A third Butt try was mere consolation for the visitors and, after the hooter sounded for a 36-22 win, the celebrations showed just how much a trip to Wembley Stadium meant to both the Knights’ fans and players alike.
This Saturday will see the team trying to make history with a first win at the national stadium and we hope to see as many of you as possible in the stadium to cheer the lads on at Wembley.
Tickets are still available for Saturday’s match but there will be NO TICKETS available on the day. You can get yours today HERE.