Brave Knights give Dragons a fright: Sunday 22nd April - Ladbrokes Challenge Cup
Catalans Dragons were pushed all the way by York City Knights in a pulsating Ladbrokes Challenge Cup round five tie at Bootham Crescent today.
With just ten minutes remaining the Knights of League 1 were still within touching distance of their Super League opponents, before late tries from Jodie Broughton and Greg Bird ensured that the Dragons would go into the hat for round six.
The presence of the BBC cameras at Bootham Crescent was evidence that this tie was seen as a potential ‘cup-set’, with the home side in good form and Catalans in the midst of a torrid start to 2018.
Jake Butler-Fleming and Brad Hey returned to the Knights back line, but prop Graeme Horne was ruled out with a late injury. Andy Ellis produced a phenomenal 80 minute performance at hooker, as James Ford opted for size on the bench in three forwards and Jake Normington.
The Dragons opened the scoring inside six minutes on the back of their first penalty – Vincent Duport finding Fouad Yaha in space down the left edge. Lucas Abert missed the touchline conversion. Catalans extended their lead to 0-10 after twenty minutes when Jason Batieri crashed over from close range off the back of another cheap penalty.
York refused to let their heads drop though, and two tries in four frantic minutes from Joe Porter suddenly saw the Knights level – first a high ball from Connor Robinson put Yaha under pressure and Judah Mazive came up with a well timed ball steal. Substitute Porter’s fresh legs powering him over the line on the next play. Robinson agonisingly hit the post with his conversion attempt. The Knights then forced a goal line drop out and got a roll on with three quick play-the-balls – Catalans couldn’t cope and Porter was in for his second, much to the delight of the 3,081 strong crowd.
Yet another soft penalty went Catalans way and they retook the lead as the half-time hooter sounded. Substitute forward Mickael Simon couldn’t be stopped from close range. Albert added the extras to earn the team from Perpignan a slender 10-16 lead at the break.
Catalans extended their lead further nine minutes into the second half. Julian Busquets dropped the ball in midfield but with the referee waving play on, David Mead took full advantage of the confused Knights defence and sent Albert in to score under the posts.
The Knights once again hit back just before the hour mark with a superb try. A great offload from Sam Scott was picked up by Kieren Moss off his bootlaces, and the classy full back strolled over to score under the posts and York now trailed by just 6 points.
Such was the concern amongst the Catalans ranks, a penalty was awarded 25 meters out and opted to take the two points, rather than go for a try against the tiring Knights defence.
Five consecutive penalties and a team warning against the shattered Knights gifted Catalans field position and allowed late tries from Jodie Broughton and Greg Bird finally put the game to bed with just five minutes remaining.
But the Knights deservedly had the last word – back-rower Joe Batchelor grounded his own grubber kick with three minutes left to give the passionate Bootham Crescent crowd a final moment of cheer after a brave effort.
York now turn their attentions back to Betfred League 1 as West Wales Raiders visit Bootham Crescent next Sunday (29th April).
York City Knights: Kieren Moss, Ash Robson, Jake Butler-Fleming, Brad Hey, Judah Mazive, Ben Cockayne, Connor Robinson, Adam Robinson, Andrew Ellis, Chris Siddons, Joe Batchelor, Sam Scott, Tim Spears. Subs (all used): Jake Normington, Ronan Dixon, Joe Porter, Dan Hawksworth.
Tries: Porter (32, 36), Moss (58), Batchelor (77).
Goals: Robinson (3/4).
Catalans Dragons: David Mead, Jodie Broughton, Tony Gigot, Vincent Duport, Fouad Yaha, Samisoni Langi, Lucas Albert, Antoni Maria, Micky McIlorum, Sam Moa, Greg Bird, Ben Garcia, Jason Batieri. Subs (all used): Paul Aiton, Julian Busquet, Thibauld Margalet, Mickael Simon.
Tries: Yaha (6), Batieri (21), Simon (40), Albert (49), Broughton (70), Bird (74).
Goals: Albert (5/7)
Isaac Poad Man of the Match: Joe Porter