York Knights fell to a narrow 19-12 defeat to Widnes Vikings in their 2023 Betfred Championship season opener at the LNER Community Stadium.
York led 12-10 heading into the final dozen minutes but an Ant Walker barge over combined with a last-minute Tom Gilmore drop-goal secured the points for Widnes.
Tries from Danny Kirmond and Joe Brown had put the Knights in front, the pair each responding from Ryan Millar and Shane Grady scores for the Vikings.
York displayed strong early scramble defence when Kieran Dixon was mauled into touch after Tom Gilmore’s chip and chase over the defence.
However, the Vikings soon put points on the board as Millar crossed in the right corner from a knocked back kick. Gilmore’s touchline conversion was wide.
Two Widnes errors on the half-hour mark allowed Head Coach Andrew Henderson’s Knights to find some much-needed momentum.
Kirmond was the first to react to Liam Harris’ grubber kick and James Glover’s conversion gave the Knights a 6-4 lead at half time.
After Josh Daley’s tip-tackle, Gilmore tied up the contest just two minutes into the second half through a penalty goal.
The Vikings moved in front when Shane Grady took three defenders with him over the line, crashing over down the right flank.
It took York less than 10 minutes to respond. Harris danced his way through the Vikings defence and found a pinpoint kick to put Brown over in the corner.
Glover converted for a two-point lead heading into the final stages.
A deep error ultimately proved too costly for the Knights though. After giving the ball away inside their own 20, the brute force of Wales international Ant Walker gave Widnes a decisive lead.
Jack Owens had no trouble adding the extras and he landed a penalty goal three minutes later for a six-point lead. Gilmore wrapped up the victory with a one-pointer from close in the dying minutes.
York: Marsh, Brown, Glover, Harrison, Towse, Cunningham, Harris, Kirby, Jubb, Fitzsimmons, Kirmond, Antrobus, Thompson.
Subs used: Michael, Daley, Teanby. Subs not used: Barnard
Tries: Kirmond (29’), Brown (55’)
Goals: Glover (2/2)
Widnes: Owens, Millar, Fleming, Edge, Dixon, Lyons, Gilmore, Lawton, Johnstone, Amor, Davies, Grady, Bent.
Subs (all used): Fozard, Field, Hatton, Walker
Tries: Millar (10’) Grady (47’) Walker (69’)
Goals: Gilmore (1/3) Owens (2/2)
Field-Goals: Craven (79’)
Referee: Michael Smaill
By Sam Brocksom