LADIES LATEST: Classy Knights dispatch Hull Wyke
By Oli Breslin
Paige Stevens came off the bench to score four second-half tries as York City Knights Ladies recorded a convincing 52-0 win over Hull Wyke Ladies at YSJU Sports Park on Sunday.
It was an incredible performance from Stevens, who had been ill in the run-up to the game and wasn’t sure she would be able to play until shortly before kick-off.
Nat Carr and Ashleigh Hyde both crossed for two tries, Katie Langan scored one while Chloe James also grabbed a try and added a further 12 points from the boot as the Knights cemented their place at the top of the Summer Merit League.
York were much-changed from last week’s dramatic Challenge Shield final triumph, with the hero at Heworth Carr moving to full-back, Mary Tiplady playing at six, while Ellie Hendry and Fran Aaron both came into Daryl North’s squad.
Tasha Diamond was given her Knights debut off the bench and impressed with her strong running and offload game.
Despite forcing an error straight from the kick-off, the hosts were unable to unlock Hull Wyke’s defence in the early stages. In fact it wasn’t until 13 minutes were on the clock that Hyde was able to break the deadlock. The visitors were on the attack, but their attempted grubber kick was blocked and Hyde raced on to the loose ball, before rounding full-back Carla Nolan to score in the left corner.
An error-strewn quarter-of-an-hour elapsed before Carr extended the lead. The ball passed through three pairs of hands before it reached the stand-in full-back to score under the posts.
Carr was held up just short soon after, as the Knights began to hit their straps. A wonderful break from Stevens then laid the platform for James to grab her try, and with one conversion added York held a 14-0 advantage at the break.
It might have been more; Carr surged out of her own half, evaded half-dozen tackles before being halted a couple of metres shy of the try line, her offload was then adjudged to have drifted forward, kyboshing a potentially breathtaking try.
The hosts kicked up the intensity level noticeably at the start of the second 40, forcing a couple of goal-line dropouts in quick succession. After the second, Tiplady’s quick play the ball allowed Stevens to power over from close range for her first try of the game; and just three minutes later she forced her way over the line in identical fashion. James converted both tries to give York a commanding 26-0 lead.
Hull Wyke’s brave first-half defensive effort looked to be taking its toll when Carr scored her second of the game two minutes later; before Stevens completed a 10-minute hat-trick after fending off two tacklers before crashing the ball down under the sticks.
By now York were really in the groove, they were denied by another close forward pass decision in the left corner, much to the bewilderment of skipper Carly Hilton. Carr should have completed her hat-trick after galloping away down the opposite flank, only to have the ball dislodged by a fantastic last-ditch tackle over the Hull-Wyke try line.
But Langan did add more points to the scoreboard on the back of an impressive run from Stevens who left four would-be tacklers in her wake to set up the opportunity for the half-back to score. James’ fifth conversion of the match made it 42-0.
In the final few minutes the unstoppable Stevens scored her fourth try of the afternoon, before Hyde had the final word scoring down the left edge to bring up the 50.
“I have been poorly all week,” said Stevens. “I didn’t think I was able to put a shirt on today, but a couple of hours before [kick-off] I couldn’t resist putting a shirt on and I’m so glad I did. I play with the best bunch of girls and I wouldn’t change it.”
North admitted that it took his side a bit of time to get going against a stubborn Hull Wyke side; “The first-half was a very eager Hull team determined to win and I believe that made us change our game plan and forced us to not play to our full potential.
“After a stern half-time talk they were a completely different team; they stuck to the game plan and were outstanding all over the field.”
The coach picked out several players who impressed; “Some of the stand out players were Nat Carr, out of position at full back with a brilliant game; Ashleigh Hyde with a strong performance in the centre and brilliant debut game from Tasha [Diamond] with some great running.
“A few weeks ago I moved Alisha [Clayton] and Paige into the second row and every week they get better and better. Paige today was phenomenal running in the wide channels, she is unstoppable.
“Outstanding effort as usual by Mary Tiplady and Katie Langan who really took the defence on in the second-half and got the girls going.”
York City Knights Ladies next game is on August 20th, when they welcome Brighouse to YSJU.