Battling Knights edge past Doncaster: Friday 30th March - League 1
An outstanding second half defensive effort at the Keepmoat Stadium yesterday ensured that York City Knights became the first team to beat Doncaster in 2018.
It was the second consecutive Good Friday victory for York over the Dons and a fifth consecutive victory for the Knights this season, lifting them up to third in the Betfred League 1 table.
With Colton Roche recalled by Huddersfield, Ash Robson and Brad Hey injured and no dual registration options available, the Knights faced a tough challenge against the previously unbeaten Dons as Head Coach James Ford rang the changes. Tim Spears and Joe Batchelor passed late fitness tests and each got through a mountain of work throughout. Hookers Andy Ellis and debutant Aaron Smith both provided great service from dummy-half, with Will Jubb effectively slotting into the second row.
It was an aggressive opening to the match as both teams looked to assert their dominance, and tempers eventually flared up in midfield where a scuffle saw the Knights lose Adam Robinson and Sam Scott to the sin bin with Doncaster’s Jordie Hedges also taking an enforced ten minute break.
While it was 12 v 11 York opened the scoring thanks to a 17th minute Connor Robinson penalty, before Doncaster took the lead with a spectacular try. A break down the right edge saw Sam Doherty in space who kicked back infield towards the posts, Judah Mazive was duped by an awkward bounce and substitute Kieran Cross touched down. Former Knight Liam Harris converted.
The Knights regained the lead five minutes later – Sam Scott ran an excellent line off a well timed Ben Cockayne pass and laid on a brilliant offload to the onrushing Ronan Dixon who crashed over just to the right of the posts. Robinson duly added the extras to make the score 6-8 at the break.
Doncaster started the second half strongly and enjoyed an extended period of attacking pressure on the Knights line, but only came away with a 48th minute Liam Harris penalty goal to show for it, levelling the score at 8-8.
Another Robinson penalty goal edged York in front again in the 54th minute, and it was Robinson’s attacking kick that set up the Knights next – ultimately crucial – try, Will Jubb gathering and juggling over the line before successfully grounding the ball to the left of the posts. Robinson maintained his 100% conversion rate and the Knights stretched their lead to 16-8 on the hour mark.
The final twenty minutes was nearly all Doncaster – consecutive penalties piggybacked the hosts up the field and Harris forced a number of repeat sets. Monumental defensive efforts somehow kept out almost certain try-scoring opportunities from Jack Sanderson and Richie Owen, before Cameron Scott gathered a Jordie Hedges attacking kick to score. Harris converted and the score was 14-16 with just five minutes remaining.
The Dons continued to throw everything bar the kitchen sink at the Knights in the closing stages, but backed by excellent travelling support in the stands, the visitors managed to hold on and claim two vital league points.
The Knights now enjoy an extended 9 day turnaround before a tough trip to Kingston Park, where they will face an in-form Newcastle Thunder on Sunday 8th April.