Knights cling on to vital victory at Hunslet: Sunday 6th May - League 1

Published: 8 May, 2018 - 3:50 pm

York City Knights scored their seventh consecutive Betfred League 1 victory by beating old rivals Hunslet on Sunday, but were made to work hard for it at a scorching hot South Leeds Stadium.

The Knights handed dual registered Will Dagger a last-minute debut at full back, and the youngster showed touches of class despite playing in an unfamiliar team. The vastly experienced quintet of Ben Cockayne, Tom Saxton, Andy Ellis, Sam Scott and Tim Spears all returned to the side after being rested in the world record victory over West Wales last week. Hunslet had four ex-Knights in their line-up in Jack Lee, Matty Nicholson, Duane Straugheir and winger Dee Foggin-Johnston – York’s top try-scorer in 2017.

The opening ten minutes saw the teams engaged in the expected arm wrestle for possession and territory, with the only real action of note saw Hunslet’s Foggin-Johnston go on report for an alleged eye-gouge on Connor Robinson.

York opened the scoring soon after as Sam Scott scooped up a loose Hunslet offload on the halfway line and sent the rapid Judah Mazive on his way to the line for the start of a scintillating 15 minutes of rugby down the right edge.

Connor Robinson converted the first of five successful kicks from six attempts to extend his current British rugby league scoring record – scoring in every game he has played for the Knights, a record stretching back 25 games starting with eight goals in a 52-20 win at Hunslet on 11 June, 2017.

The Knights lead was doubled just three minutes later as a classy run from Aussie centre Jake Butler-Fleming created space for Dagger to stroll over untouched.

Ben Cockayne then rolled back the years for try number three, darting through a gap in the Hunslet defence from the base of the scrum 80 meters out, passing to the supporting Butler-Fleming who beat the scrambling defence and gave the ball back to Cockayne, who put Mazive over for a phenomenal try.

York made it 0-24 before the half hour mark with another try of the season contender. Cockayne’s cut out pass to Butler-Fleming created a 1v2, and his well timed offload sent Mazive flying down the right edge. Mazive produced an inch perfect kick infield to the supporting Cockayne to score under the posts.

After running riot in the opening 30 minutes, York seemingly looked out of sorts thereafter and a reinvigorated Hunslet team started to hit back. First Josh Jordan-Roberts hit a great line to go through untouched. Joe Sanderson’s conversion has a 100% conversion success rate for the afternoon.

The Knights won a penalty just in their own half with 60 seconds remaining before the break and Connor Robinson opted to go for goal. His attempt went the distance but missed the target, and Hunslet won the ball from the resulting 20 metre drop out. A penalty gifted the home team field position, and as the hooter sounded Southernwood chipped to the corner and Nathan Chappell out-jumped the flat footed Knights defence, and Hunslet went into the sheds at half time just two scores down.

Hunslet sub Jack Walton was sin-binned for a crusher tackle on Dagger just 60 seconds into the second half, but York failed to take full advantage.

York battled hard in the searing heat, but uncharacteristic errors and penalties started to take their toll on a laboured defence. The Parksiders scored their third try just after the hour mark as Walton hit and span over the line to score.

Hooker Andy Ellis was crucial to the Knights’ eventual victory, as his direction from dummy half continually lifted York’s attack whenever he was on the pitch. One such run won the Knights a penalty for a lazy high shot with just eight minutes remaining, and Connor Robinson slotted the simple conversion for a vital 18-26 lead with time running out.

York were still struggling to see the game out however. Another gifted Hunslet more possession upfield, and from the tap Chappell raced over, Sanderson’s conversion made it 26-24 with four minutes to go.

Previous York teams may have lost this game, but the 2018 team is made of stern stuff and after Joe Batchelor scrambled back to gather a probing kick, the full time hooter was welcomed by the loud and proud travelling army of Knights fans.

York now turn their attentions to an intriguing rearranged round two trip to Coventry Bears this Saturday (12th May), hoping to extend their winning streak and keep the pressure on league leaders Bradford…

Hunslet: Watson, Foggin-Johnston, Chappell, Cooke, Ashton, Sanderson, Southernwood, Hema, Lee, Nicholson, Straugheir, Jordan-Roberts, Foster. Subs (all used): Halmshaw, Haley, Reed, Walton.

Tries: Jordan-Roberts 33, Chappell 40, 76, Walton 63.

Conversions: Sanderson (4/4).

Sin-binned: Walton 41.

Knights: Dagger, Saxton, Butler-Fleming, Hey, Mazive, Cockayne, C Robinson, A Robinson, Ellis, Horne, Batchelor, Scott, Spears. Subs (all used): Jubb, Siddons, Ronan Dixon, Porter.

Tries: Mazive 12, 24, Dagger 15, Cockayne 28.

Conversions: C Robinson (5/6).

Attendance: 729

Isaac Poad Man of the Match: Andy Ellis