Knights edged out at Whitehaven: Sunday 10th September - League 1
By Oli Breslin
A much-changed York City Knights succumbed to a 26-16 defeat away to Whitehaven in dour conditions yesterday (Sunday 10th September).
Having guaranteed their place in the Play-offs with last week’s draw against Doncaster, the Knights will likely be making a return trip to the Recreation Ground on for the semi-final on September 24th, meaning that Sunday’s defeat will ultimately have little impact in the grand scheme of things.
Joe Batchelor and Brad Hey were rested, while Liam Harris, Adam Robinson and Jordan Cox were late withdrawals from James Ford’s squad that was already missing a plethora of players through injury and suspension.
Haven full-back Elliott Miller’s try had the Knights behind early on, but they responded by forcing a goal-line drop-out before Connor Robinson finished off the resulting set by sliding a perfectly weighted grubber kick in for stand-in full-back Ben Dent to pounce on to level the scores.
Given the rain throughout the afternoon, points looked like they would be at a premium, so it was no surprise that Paul Crook opted to take two points when York were penalised for holding down. Robinson responded with a two-pointer of his own soon after to level the scores at eight apiece.
But the Cumbrians would head into the break with a six-point lead, Miller’s second try of the game – latching onto a grubber kick was again converted by Crook.
As the rain eased off York began to play some expansive rugby and dominated the early minutes of the second half. Joe Porter, playing at prop, broke the Whitehaven line to set the platform for a deserved try; a quick play the ball and incisive pass from Robinson put Jonny Presley over.
Another powerful run from Porter teed up another York try seven minutes later; with Haven’s defence scrambling back Presley dabbed a kick into the left corner and Dee Foggin-Johnston pounced on the loose ball to edge the visitors 16-14 in front.
That was as good as it would get for Ford’s men, however. The games next try came from yet another grubber kick, Dion Aiye the grateful recipient as the Knights failed to deal with the greasy ball on a boggy surface.
The hosts began to ratchet up the pressure, Jesse Joe Parker was stopped just short of the line, before Carl Forster had a try chalked off for a forward pass.
With seven minutes left on the clock Haven did seal the victory, on the back of a penalty player-coach Forster touched down again, this time it did count, and Crook maintained his 100% success rate with the boot to condemn the Knights to a 10-point defeat.
The Knights host Newcastle Thunder next Sunday (17th September) at Bootham Crescent in the final round of the Kingstone Press League 1 Super 8s with James Ford expecting a number of first choice players to return to the fold.