Egremont Rangers: Sunday 26th February - Ladbrokes Challenge Cup
Report Courtesy of Peter Martini and The York Press
YORK City Knights, unlike a few Kingstone Press League One counterparts, enjoyed straightforward passage into the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup fourth round thanks to a 48-8 victory over Egremont – albeit marred by some late nonsense from the Cumbrians which at one point left them down to ten men.
Three tries inside the opening 13 minutes set York on their way and the banana skin was well and truly sidestepped after three in the first 13 minutes of the second half.
The scoreline remained lower than it should have been, though, as last season’s goalkicking ills reared their ugly head, seven of ten conversions missed.
Minds must have been focussed after amateur heroics 24 hours earlier, when Siddal pushed moneybags new club Toronto close, Whitehaven needed a late try to edge out West Hull and Fryston were neck and neck with Keighley for an hour before a big punch-up and a few late Cougar tries sealed matters.
The rain, wind and mud over in Siddal may have been a leveller in that particular instance, but these National Conference premier division clubs are no mugs. Take them easy at your peril.
That, plus the desire to give his new team more game time together before the League One campaign starts next weekend, would have played a part in James Ford’s team selection, the head coach making only three changes to the side that lost the season-opening League Cup tie against North Wales amid extra-time agony.
The Cumbrians, for their part, were missing half-back James McDonald, second-row Mike Ellwood and BARLA international hooker Marcus O’Brien due to injuries suffered in the last round against Wigan St Patrick’s, but player-coach John-Paul Brocklebank, the former Whitehaven man, was a surprise inclusion at stand-off, having recovered from injury in round one.
Conditions at Bootham Crescent, with its splendid playing surface, were not such a leveller as at Siddal, despite a swirling wind which can be partly blamed for the missed shots at goal – Harry Tyson-Wilson (4/10), Ash Robson (0/1) and Egremont’s Matt Bewsher (0/1) and Joe Bold (0/1) off target much more than on.
Egremont’s lack of discipline also gave them more of an uphill struggle.
It began early, as they argued so much about not getting a penalty that they were themselves penalised for dissent while in possession 20 metres from their own line.
Full-back Ash Robson made them pay, beating his man for the opening score.
They overcooked the restart by a metre, too, and within moments York had their second, Harry Carter with a smart but simple run-in from dummy-half.
Carter had been one of those three changes to York’s line-up, the obvious replacement at hooker for loanee Will Jubb, who was not made available by parent club Hull KR. Ford had told the 23-year-old to prove he should have been selected last week, too, and the score served some notice.
Loanee prop Kieran Moran was also unavailable, Hull KR not wanting anyone cup-tied, so Joe Porter made his debut off the bench. York Acorn’s player of the year was one of few players to know much of Egremont, having played against them in the NCL, and he showed up very well here too in a hard-running 50-minute stint.
The other change saw Joe Batchelor, impressive in pre-season, debuting at centre after overcoming his side strain, James Haynes making way.
The early 8-0 lead rewarded York’s eagerness and pace from play-the-balls, and a third try soon followed after another fine running set, Tyson-Wilson’s pinpoint chip finding winger Dee Foggin-Johnston in acres of space to score.
One drawback for York was the loss to injury of prop Chris Siddons.
Egremont, already 5-0 down on the penalty count, finally had some respite after a penalty of their own, full-back Rhys Davies’ chip and a good chase forcing a dropout.
They soon forced a second, too, but it only led to a breakaway York try as the ball went to ground.
Swift hands on the free play got it to centre Nev Morrison, who sidestepped and sprinted 90 metres to the other end, keeping the chasing Davies at arm’s length all the way.
The next time Egremont got a repeat set, this thanks to a York hand on the ball, they did score, hooker Matthew Henson’s crash ball seeing Brocklebank get over.
They finished the half on top, too, but York’s goalline defence had been good against North Wales and it was again to keep it 16-4 at the interval.
The Knights’ lead increased on the resumption on the back of another penalty. Second-row Brad Hey was bumped to ground but got up and got over.
On the back of another, stand-off Danny Sowerby darted through with a show and go reminiscent of a young Danny McGuire.
Then Hey made a superb break and sent Batchelor home for a debut try.
Egremont got further reward for their efforts with a Matthew Henson try but their constant fouling led to a team warning and quick-fire yellow cards for Kieran Glenn and Davies, the latter for a foul on Foggin-Johnston as he crossed in the corner for his second try. Tyson-Wilson kicked that penalty.
Then a ludicrous high tackle on Porter saw Leon Crellin sent off as things all got a bit daft.
Hey scored a superb solo try against the ten men, while Foggin-Johnston’s fine run set up a Robson try against 12 on the hooter, but the bigger aim of the last 15 minutes was the leave the field with all heads intact.