Knights crowned Champions after Whitehaven win: Sunday 23rd September - League 1
York City Knights were crowned Betfred League 1 Champions at a bouncing Bootham Crescent yesterday, after sealing an unforgettable 15th consecutive victory against a resolute Whitehaven under the autumn sunshine.
The Knights needed a win on the last day of the season to stay above favourites Bradford Bulls and seal automatic promotion to the 2019 Betfred Championship, as the thrilling League 1 title race went down to the wire.
Head Coach James Ford brought back a number of players who sat out last week’s relatively comfortable victory at Hemel Stags, with Joe Batchelor, Sam Scott and Joel Edwards all returning to the side. Hooker Andy Ellis also returned and led the team out on his 350th – and final – appearance of a glittering career.
Whitehaven got the first points on the board with a 12th minute penalty via Dan Abram, before Connor Robinson levelled the score six minutes later with the first of six penalty goals. Robinson set new all-time York RL records for goals and points in a season, ending with 186 and 420 respectively, beating Danny Brough’s records of 178 and 412 set in 2004.
A second penalty edged the Knights ahead after half an hour, before Matt Chilton scored the first try of the game four minutes later. Some slick passing created enough space for the former York Acorn junior to cross down the left edge.
From the kick off Jack Ormondroyd fumbled the ball and Whitehaven went straight on the attack. Hooker Josh Eaves scooted from close range under the posts to level the scores once again.
Another Robinson penalty edged York ahead 10-8 at the break after a frantic 40 minutes of rugby.
York’s tactics were to take whatever points were on offer in such a close contest, and two further Robinson penalties extended the Knights lead to six points by the hour mark, before a crucial double strike gave York much needed breathing space.
Joe Batchelor’s evasive footwork and well timed offload sent Sam Scott racing home, before Aussie Joel Edwards span out of a tackle to cross from close range just three minutes later, and the Knights held a crucial three-score lead at 24-8 with quarter of an hour remaining.
Some enterprising rugby down the left edge saw Jordan Burns hit back for Whitehaven in the 70th minute, but the Knights remained calm and focussed on the job at hand, working through their sets and making the visitors work hard for field position. This pressure soon told and a loose Whitehave offload was scooped up by Ash Robson, who tracked across field on the counter attack and set Connor Robinson up on the overlap, who sent Chilton racing home for his second try of the day to put the game to bed.
A final Robinson penalty deep into stoppage time made the final score 32-14, and the full time hooter was greeted with wild celebrations amongst the ecstatic 3,223 strong crowd.
‘Championes, Championes, ole ole ole!’
Knights: Marsh, Robson, Batchelor, Hey, Chilton, Cockayne, C Robinson, Ronan Dixon, Ellis, Horne, Jordan-Roberts, Scott, Spears. Subs (all used): Carter, Edwards, Ormondroyd, Porter.
Tries: Chilton (34), (72), Scott (59), Edwards (63).
Conversions: C Robinson (8/10).
Whitehaven: Abram, Burns, Mossop, Nandye, Green, Roper, Phillips, J Thompson, Howarth, Tilley, Aiye, Gillam, Forster. Subs (all used): Coward, Eaves, Holliday, D Thompson.
Tries: Eaves (37), Burns (69).
Conversions: Abram (3/3).
Isaac Poad Man of the match: Ash Robson.
Referee: Jack Smith.