York Knights suffered a narrow 26-24 defeat away to Whitehaven at the LEL Arena on Wednesday evening.
York led 0-10 after tries from AJ Towse and the returning Danny Kirmond inside the opening 10 minutes but 16 unanswered points from Whitehaven - thanks to Ryan King, Dion Aiye and Josh Rourke scores - saw the home side ahead at the break.
The Knights and Haven exchanged converted tries through Brenden Santi and Curtis Teare respectively before unconverted efforts from Towse and Oscar Doran left the Cumbrians leading by six points in the final five minutes.
Oli Pratt cut the gap to just two points in the final couple of minutes but Whitehaven held on to secure the points.
The Knights had earlier made the dream start, Towse winning the foot race against Dave Eccleston to ground Ata Hingano's chip to the left corner.
A brilliant dummy from the returning Liam Harris created allowed Kirmond to double the lead, with Myles Harrison converting for a 0-10 lead.
Haven hit back through second-rower King’s touchdown down the right before a Jamie Doran offload was finished off by Aiye to the right of the sticks.
Whitehaven took the lead with seven minutes to go before half-time as Rourke found the whitewash in broken field after Aiye's line-break.
Crucially, Rourke converted two of the tries for a six-point lead at the break.
The Knights levelled the game 10 minutes into the second half as Brendan Santi barged over for his first try in Knights colours. Harrison added the extras.
But the hosts regained the lead with 15 minutes to go as Teare ran against the break down the left on the back of a scrum set play, which Rourke converted.
Josh Daley's bullet pass down the short side allowed Towse a simple finish in the left corner although Whitehaven reasserted their six-point lead when Oscar Doran dotted down a left flank overlap.
York battled until the final hooter. Keeping the ball alive on the last, Harris broke the line before feeding Pratt to finish in the right corner.
But Harrison's conversion drifted wide as Haven held on to take the two points.
Whitehaven: Rourke, Eccleston, Taylor, Teare, O.Doran, J.Doran, Carter, Castle, Newton, Ainley, Holliday, King, Aiye
Interchanges (all used): McAvoy, Tabu, Graham, Singleton
Tries: King (16’), Aiye (22’), Rourke (33’), Teare (65’), O.Doran (74’)
Goals: Rourke (3/5)
York: Brown, Towse, Harrison, Pratt, Ward, Hingano, Harris, Santi, Cunningham, Fitzsimmons, Clarkson, Kirmond, Thompson
Interchanges (all used): Daley, Teanby, Ta’ai, Field
Tries: Towse (5’, 69'), Kirmond (10’), Santi (50’), Pratt (78’)
Goals: Harrison (2/5)
Referee: Michael Smaill
Geoff Pryce Player of the Match in partnership with Isaac Poad Brewing: Josh Daley
Picture by Ben Challis