Proud Knights edged out in wet and wild thriller: Saturday 8th June - Betfred Championship
Third placed York City Knights and second placed Toulouse Olympique produced a thrilling game in the Betfred Championship despite awful conditions at Bootham Crescent on Saturday, with the visitors just coming out on top in a high quality encounter.
With York Pride taking place on the same day, the Knights took the opportunity to celebrate a fantastic afternoon of equality and diversity both at our club, and in rugby league.
Knights Head Coach James Ford made five changes to the team that progressed in the 1895 Cup last week, with experienced trio Liam Salter, Sam Scott & Graeme Horne all returning to the team. Harry Aldous was also back in after sitting out the victory over parent club Newcastle. Brad Hey was recalled on the morning of the game and produced a fine performance as Junior Vaivai was a late withdrawal.
The first half was always going to be an arm wrestle in such torrential conditions and it was 14 minutes before first blood was drawn off the back of the first mistake. Toulouse kicked out on the full handing York field position advantage, and from the resulting set prop Jack Teanby crashed over by the posts. Connor Robinson converted for a 6-0 lead.
York crucially came up with three handling errors in all three sets after scoring in this match however, and all three times Toulouse immediately hit back – a perfectly timed pass saw Mathieu Jussaume fly over, with Barthau converting to level the scores in the 16th minute.
The Knights retook the lead in the 24th minute thanks to an excellent finish from Brad Hay, who beat his opposing centre and took full advantage of the wet surface by sliding over from 5 metres out. York again fumbled the restart, and again Toulouse equalised instantly through second-row James Bell.
Thankfully the rain eased off for the second half as both teams searched for the lead, which York took for a third time in the match thanks to a move straight out of the Melbourne Storm play book – Graeme Horne at first receiver gave a quick ball back inside to Matty Marsh who sliced straight through the ruck, before passing on to the supporting Liam Harris for the try of the game.
Frustratingly York were again judged to have dropped the ball in the first hit up off the restart, despite Joe Porter’s pleas of innocence – And once again Toulouse struck back, quick hands out to the right edge saw winger Paul Marcon expertly finish in the corner. Barthau missed the touch line conversion and the Knights clung on to an 18-16 lead on the hour mark.
Second-placed Toulouse took the lead for the first time in the game with just seven minutes remaining, and in controversial circumstances. A high kick to the right corner was challenged for by Oakes and Marcon, with the former appearing to be taken out in the air. The ball came loose and Jussamue crossed for his second try of the match.
As York desperately searched for a late winner of their own, Toulouse counter attacked and a professional foul from Matty Marsh saw the full back spend the last three minutes in the sin bin. Barthau added the penalty goal to extend the lead to a converted try with just 60 seconds remaining, and duly killed off any hope of a last gasp draw by adding a field goal from 30 meters out as the full time hooter sounded.
Attentions now turn to the visit of Rochdale Hornets to Bootham this Fathers Day Sunday (June 16th) in another huge game in the Betfred Championship, with the Knights looking to quickly get their play-off push back on track. Get your tickets online now from Eventbrite HERE!
Knights: Marsh, Bass, Salter, Hey, Oakes, Harris, Robinson, Teanby, Jubb, Blagbrough, Scott, Aldous, Spears. Subs (all used): Brining, Horne, Stock, Porter.
Tries: Teanby (14), Hey (24), Harris (55).
Goals: Robinson (3/3).
Sin-bin: Marsh 77 (professional foul).
Toulouse: Kheirallah, Marcon, Jussaume, Marguerite, Maurel, Barthau, Robin, Puech, Parata, P Vaivai, Mika, Bell, Marion. Subs (all used): Boyer, Evans, Hepi, Santi.
Tries: Jussaume (16, 73), Bell (28), Marcon (59).
Goals: Barthau (4/5).
Field goal: Barthau 79.
Isaac Poad Man of the Match: Graeme Horne
Match sponsor: Evora Construction