Knights fall to Bradford on Odsal return: Sunday 30th May - Betfred Championship
Bradford Bulls (24) 37-18 (12) York City Knights
James Ford’s York City Knights fell to defeat to rivals Bradford Bulls in the Betfred Championship as our hosts returned to Odsal for the first time in two years.
Brendan O’Hagan and Jack Teanby both returned to the matchday squad after close to two months out and both started for the Knights but, ultimately, it was O’Hagan’s opposite half-back Danny Brough who ran the show.
The veteran half was central to the opening score of the match with five minutes on the clock. Running the ball on the last, Brough and full-back Brandon Pickersgill worked the ball left to Joe Brown and the winger cut inside the Knights defence to open the scoring. On a narrow pitch, Brough’s conversion attempt from near the touchline was successful.
O’Hagan was central when the Knights hit back, however, with his lofted kick to his left edge excellently caught by winger Kieran Dixon who, incredibly, managed to ground when there looked to be very little space. His conversion attempted levelled up the scores.
That score came after Dixon’s kick-off came back off the posts and would be the first of many varied kick off styles on the narrow pitch – some of which came off, others which didn’t.
Shortly after the Knights levelled up the scores, Bradford went ahead again. After winger Dixon was unable to gather a towering Brough kick, an offside teammate gathered the ball which gave the hosts a kickable penalty. Brough obliged.
Our left winger was highly involved in the opening quarter and could have scored his second try of the afternoon shortly after Brough’s penalty. The first to a Jordan Lilley last tackle kick, O’Hagan began the charge upfield and, around halfway, passed inside to the supporting Dixon. On the heavy pitch, however, the winger was tackled by Brown and went on to knock on in the tackle.
The next set saw Bradford extend their lead.
Forcing a repeat set which saw the hosts gain field position, Lilley danced through the Knights defensive line to score close to the posts. Brough converted and, after Mikey Lewis was penalised for dissent, the half-back extended the Bulls’ lead.
The Knights would hit back with a crucial try on the 34th minute. After building our own period of pressure in Bradford’s territory, centre Ryan Atkins forced his way over after a strong carry, narrowing the deficit with Dixon adding the two points.
Shortly before the break, though, Bradford made it a two-score lead.
Ashton Golding, off the bench on debut for the Bulls on loan from Huddersfield, sped over from dummy-half to score close to the sticks. Brough converted and then added another penalty, the hosts making the most of the Knights’ indiscipline to lead 24-12 at the break.
Early in the second half, it was the Knights who looked to have opened the scoring. Referee Ben Thaler, however, disallowed Matty Marsh’s effort with Kriss Brining deemed to have stolen the ball forwards in the tackle from Joe Brown.
If Ford was hoping that the indiscipline that dogged the Knights in the first half would cease in the second, it wouldn’t – and Bradford would, indeed, score the first points of the second half. Thaler penalised the Knights for offside and that lead to Joe Brown threatening on the left edge before passing inside to centre Ross Oakes to score for the Bulls.
Again, Brough converted.
With the Knights now looking for a huge last half an hour to pull off a comeback, O’Hagan’s wide pass was intercepted by Rhys Evans. Great covering defence from the Knights restricted him and winger Vulukijapani, but Brough kept the scoreboard ticking over for the hosts with a drop-goal.
The next score did see a moment of brilliance from the Knights in attack. Lewis, up in support, threw a brilliant pass across the face of the Bradford defence to get captain Chris Clarkson through a hole in that defence to score his second in as many games. Dixon converted.
Bradford, though, were able to close out the game with Brough’s kicking game dominating proceedings and, for the last score of the match, his left boot was key. A towering bomb wasn’t dealt with effectively and, after bouncing high in the in-goal, winger Brown leapt to gather and ground. Brough converted to make it six straight league wins for Bradford.
Bradford Bulls: Brandon Pickersgill, Joe Brown, Rhys Evans, Ross Oakes, Mitieli Vulukijapani, Danny Brough, Jordan Lilley, Dan Fleming, Thomas Doyle, Steve Crossley, Brad England, Aaron Murphy, Ben Evans.
Interchanges: Ashton Golding, Ellis Robson, Ebon Scurr, Oliver Wilson.
Tries: Joe Brown (5, 74), Jordan Lilley (24), Ashton Golding (38), Ross Oakes (50)
Goals: Danny Brough (8/8)
Drop goal: Danny Brough (56)
York City Knights: Mikey Lewis, Ben Jones-Bishop, Liam Salter, Ryan Atkins, Kieran Dixon, Matty Marsh, Brendan O’Hagan, Jack Teanby, Will Jubb, Jordan Baldwinson, Sam Scott, Danny Kirmond, Chris Clarkson.
Interchanges: Adam Cuthbertson, Kriss Brining, Marcus Stock, James Green.
Tries: Kieran Dixon (10), Ryan Atkins (34), Chris Clarkson (62)
Goals: Kieran Dixon (3/3)
Official Man of the Match: Chris Clarkson, sponsored by GMB Union
Image courtesy of Jordan Benjamin-Sutton