Knights downed by soaring Eagles: Sunday 24th March - Betfred Championship
Sheffield Eagles produced a gutsy performance to inflict York City Knights second defeat of the season at a blustery Bootham Crescent today.
Both teams were in good form ahead of the match each having won five of their opening six Betfred Championship games – sitting third and fourth on the ladder respectively – and it was the visitors who came away with the spoils here, inspired by veteran half back Anthony Thackeray.
Knights Head Coach James Ford had made four changes to the team that beat Halifax last week, bringing in wing Perry Whiteley who had recovered from a migrane to replace Jason Bass who picked up a knock in training, hooker Will Jubb returned in place of Harry Carter, centre Brad Hey made his first appearance for a month, and winger Conor McGrath made his debut after joining on a month loan from Halifax.
Sheffield Eagles Head Coach Mark Aston made two changes to the team that narrowly beat Dewsbury last week, bringing in Ben Hellewell and Sadiq Adebiyi on dual registration from London Broncos in place of the injured Jason Crookes and suspended Blake Broadbent.
The visitors were put under pressure early on as Ryan Millar fumbled Connor Robinson’s first high kick of the afternoon, but weathered the early storm as both sides settled into the arm wrestle. Referee Jack Smith allowed the game to flow back and forth at a good pace before awarding the first penalty of the game to the Knights after 23 minutes.
Sheffield Eagles broke the deadlock 26 minutes into the game with a wonderful acrobatic winger’s finish on the left edge from Millar, but Pat Walker missed the tricky touchline conversion.
York hit back five minutes before half time with a well taken try down the right edge, Ben Cockayne finding space to create an overlap with Liam Salter and debutant Conor McGrath, who produced a superb offload back inside for Salter to score. Connor Robinson added the extras and the Knights took a slender 6-4 lead into the sheds at the break.
The start of the second half mirrored the first as both teams engaged in another tense battle for territory and possession, before Sheffield regained the lead on the hour mark. A well placed cross field kick from Thackeray was taken in superbly by James Glover who touched down to the left of the posts, with Walker adding the conversion. The Eagles extended their lead five minutes later when Thackeray picked a perfect pass to send Scotland International Ben Hellewell racing through a gap to score a well taken try, Walker again converted for a 6-16 score.
York were given hope during a frantic finish to the game when Will Jubb scored a typical hooker’s try from close range, Robinson again goaling – but the restart was allowed to bounce out and from the resulting set Pat Walker added a penalty goal to maintain a six point cushion. The Knights continued to press however and some good hands across the line saw McGrath score down the right wing. Robinson missed the crucial touchline conversion that would have levelled the scores, and that blow was compounded by Sheffield winning the ball from another tricky restart.
The game was finally put to bed from the resulting set as Thackeray again found Hellewell with a well timed pass for the strong running centre to crash over and seal a well earned victory.
Attentions now turn to the Coral Challenge Cup round 4 next weekend, with the Knights looking to bounce back in a tough tie at Barrow Raiders. Call the office now on 01904 876527 to book your place on the supporter’s bus for just £15.
KNIGHTS: Marsh, McGrath, Salter, Hey, Whiteley, Cockayne, Robinson, Dixon, Jubb, Blagbrough, Scott, Batchelor, Spears. Subs (all used): Brining, Teanby, Horne, Porter
Tries: Salter (35), Jubb (73), McGrath (76).
Goals: Robinson (2/3)
EAGLES: Guzdek, Millar, Glover, Hellewell, Blackmore, Walker, Thackeray, James, Davey, Tagg, Davies, Farrell, Brown. Subs (all used): Adebiyi, Burns, Dixon, Makelim
Tries: Millar (26), Glover (59), Hellewell (64, 78)
Goals: Walker (4/5)
Isaac Poad Man of the Match: Jack Teanby