Knights hold out Bulls in Odsal epic: Sunday 22nd July - League 1
York City Knights avenged their opening day defeat to Bradford Bulls in spectacular fashion at Odsal stadium yesterday, but only after withstanding an epic fightback in another outstanding game between the two Betfred League 1 front-runners.
It was a fairytale end to a fantastic week for the Knights, who were celebrating head coach James Ford’s new 3 year full time contract, and the notable squad additions of Jack Ormonroyd & Josh Jordan-Roberts from Leeds Rhinos, and NRL star Joel Edwards.
Ormondroyd made an impact in his debut from the bench, and Andy Ellis & Sam Scott returned after missing last week’s victory at London Skolars.
York sprang out of the blocks right from the start, playing like men possessed both when pushing up in defence and getting a roll on in attack. The first points were on the board after just six minutes when Ben Cockayne produced a superb delayed pass to Josh Johnson, who powered through the flat footed Bulls defence.
Cockayne turned from provider to scorer soon after, his dummy fooling the Bulls enough for him to stroll through and double the Knights lead to 12 points in as many minutes, thanks also to two Connor Robinson conversions.
A huge Robinson 40-20 once again handed York the ascendancy and Jake Butler-Fleming got a brilliant offload out the back door to Judah Mazive, who crossed for the first of his brace of tries.
The one thousand strong travelling army of Knights fans were in dreamland when Joe Batchelor then powered through some soft Bradford defence just minutes later, and Robinson added a penalty goal on the half hour mark to stretch York’s lead to at least four scores at 0-24.
Bradford Bulls finally kicked into life after this, and after some sustained pressure on the Knights line they finally got on the board in the 38th minute – fast hands out to the right seeing winger Dalton Grant cross.
The home team as expected came out with renewed energy after the half time break and dominated large parts of the second half, repeatedly forcing York on the back foot with a fast ruck speed – which in turn was rewarded with numerous penalties for laying on as the Knights began to tire.
Greg McNally scored a soft try after 52 minutes by stretching out from dummy half and catching York napping on the line, and the rampaging Ross Peltier powered over just moments later, and the Bulls were right back in the game.
The try of the day – and perhaps the whole League 1 season – then came when Bradford winger Ethan Ryan picked out a Dane Chisholm cross field kick high in the air, and somehow evaded Judah Mazive and the touchline to spectacularly reduce York’s lead to just 2 points with 17 minutes remaining.
York desperately needed a half-chance to get back into the game, and found one in the 70th minute when another probing Chisholm kick was plucked out the air by Jake Butler-Fleming close to the line, who then sent Judah Mazive racing home from 90 meters out. Mazive showing tremendous character by responding to a couple of mistakes just a few moments earlier in the most emphatic fashion.
Bradford refused to quit however and a Chisholm penalty with five minutes remaining made it a 6 point game. Dalton Grant then somehow bombed a certain try scoring opportunity with Ash Robson desperately scrambling to cover, but the ball again found its way out to Grant moments later, who this time finished well in the corner.
The score was 28-30 with 20 seconds remaining, but Chisholm dragged the game-levelling conversion wide and the Knights held on for a memorable victory in a game that will live long in the memory for all 6,471 people there.
York now turn their attentions to #KnightsFest BBQ on Tuesday night, where fans will have the opportunity to meet and chat to both the mens and ladies Knights squads and also secure their 2019 season ticket, and with it their place in the brand new community stadium. Following that will be the visit of Coventry Bears to Bootham Crescent next Sunday (29th July, 3pm), who will travel in confident mood off the back of a 3 game win streak – including a memorable 30-20 victory over Keighley Cougars last Saturday.
Bradford Bulls: McNally, Grant, Johnson, Oakes, Ryan, Keyes, Chisholm, Crossley, Hallas, Bustin, Minchella, Garside, Wood. Subs (all used): Flanagan, Green, Peltier, Kirk.
Tries: Grant (38, 79), McNally (52), Peltier (55), Ryan (63).
Conversions: Chisholm (4/5), Keyes (0/1).
York City Knights: Marsh, Robson, Butler-Fleming, Hey, Mazive, Cockayne, C Robinson, J Johnson, Ellis, Walne, Batchelor, Scott, Spears. Subs (all used): Horne, Ormondroyd, Porter, Carter.
Tries: Johnson (6), Cockayne (12), Mazive (19, 70), Batchelor (25).
Goals: C Robinson (5/6).
Isaac Poad Man of the Match: Ben Cockayne.