12 man Knights tough it out against spirited Dons: Sunday 8th July - League 1
York City Knights produced yet another battling performance yesterday to see off a resolute Doncaster side in energy-sapping humid conditions at Bootham Crescent.
Their fifth consecutive Betfred League 1 victory sees them remain just two points behind leaders Bradford and importantly six points clear of third placed Oldham with ten rounds remaining.
Head Coach James Ford welcomed back the experienced trio of captain Tim Spears, Andy Ellis and Graeme Horne as well as point scoring machine Connor Robinson. Loanee Colton Roche also returned from a groin strain.
In a huge blow for both teams considering the sweltering conditions, referee Marcus Griffiths sent off Doncaster’s Russ Spiers and York’s Josh Johnson when the match was less than five minutes old for a dust up at the play the ball. Perhaps a yellow card each would have been sufficient instead of both teams losing a forward so early on.
The Dons initially responded well and put the first points on the board just two minutes later when new signing Matty Beharrell lofted a well timed wide pass out left and winger Richie Owen finished well. Jack Sanderson missed the conversion attempt from the touchline.
York hit back almost immediately with their first foray into the red zone – a fine attacking move from right to left saw Judah Mazive produce one of his trademark acrobatic finishes in the corner. Connor Robinson expertly converted from the touchline to edge the Knights in front.
An 18th minute penalty in front of the posts for holding down saw Sanderson level the scores, with Robinson returning the favour just five minutes later after Ben Cockayne was caught by a high arm.
The Knights stretched their lead on the half hour mark, the scheming Cockayne managed to bounce off an attempted tackle and created an overlap for Joe Batchelor to send Ash Robson home down the right edge. Robinson missed the conversion off the touch line, and the score remained 12-6 when both teams headed into the sheds at half time for a well earned cool down.
In a solid moment of game management eight minutes into the second half, Connor Robinson capitalised on the lack of pressure by adding an important drop goal with nothing else on to edge the lead to two scores in front.
An unexpected offload from Jason Tali caught the Knights off guard around the hour mark which allowed Owen in for his second try of the afternoon to cut York’s lead to 13-10.
Matty Marsh relieved some pressure with a fine individual try in the 63rd minute – shaping to pass near the defensive line before cutting through to score. Doncaster refused to go away though and were once again just three points behind when a perfectly placed reverse kick from Beharrell fell straight into the hands of the waiting Jordan Howden to score under the posts.
With just minutes remaining the next score was going to be crucial, and it was the Knights that found it. Isaac Poad Man of the Match Ben Cockayne teed Graeme Horne up close to the line for the veteran forward to crash over. Doncaster still searched for a way back as the clock ticked down, but a dropped ball was picked up by Cockayne who rounded off another fine afternoon by burning Richie Owen for speed to race home to the delight of the jubilant Bootham Crescent crowd.
York now turn their attentions to a tricky trip down the M1 when they face London Skolars at New River Stadium next Saturday, 14th July at 3pm.
Knights: Marsh, Robson, Batchelor, Hey, Mazive, Cockayne, Robinson, Johnson, Ellis, Walne, Kelly, S Scott, Spears. Subs (all used): Carter, Horne, Roche, Porter.
Tries: Mazive (9), Robson (31), Marsh (63), Horne (78), Cockayne (80).
Conversions: Robinson (5/6).
Drop goal: Robinson (48).
Sent off: Johnson (5) – Punching.
Doncaster: Sanderson, Owen, Doherty, Tali, Jones-Bishop, Howden, Beharrell, Spiers, Kesik, Boyle, Lane, England, Turgut. Subs (all used): Litten, Mariano, Osborne, Connor Scott.
Tries: Owen (7), (58), Howden (68).
Conversions: Sanderson (2/4).
Sent off: Spiers (5) – Punching.
Isaac Poad Man of the Match: Ben Cockayne
Photo credit: Gordon Clayton.