Knights hold on to Hornets victory: Sunday 12th May - Betfred Championship
York City Knights will head to the Summer Bash at Blackpool this weekend sitting in third place outright on the Betfred Championship table, after a scrappy 18-24 victory at Rochdale Hornets yesterday.
The League 1 Champions have so far exceeded all expectations at a higher level, with 9 wins and 4 losses after playing everyone at the halfway point in the season – this game being the rescheduled round six fixture that was postponed at the last minute back in March.
Head Coach James Ford was forced into making more changes to his injury hit team, as on loan half Cain Southernwood dropped out with a neck injury, and prop Graeme Horne also ruled out. Prop Ronan Dixon pulled up with a knee injury in the pre-match warm up and was replaced by 18th man Mike Kelly. The Knights suffered a further blow ten minutes into the game when new signing Jordan Baldwinson departed with a knee injury, leaving York with just two fit props for the majority of the game.
Joe Porter made a timely return from injury however, and Matty Marsh moved to half back with Jason Bass starting at full back and Brad Hey returning to the centres.
The game was delayed by 15 minutes as Rochdale’s camera operator arrived late, and the Knights got off to a sloppy start conceding two 40/20 kicks as Jason Bass struggled to adjust his positioning and communication with wingers Judah Mazive and Perry Whiteley.
Bass soon made amends though as he chimed into the attacking line, finding space to send Matty Marsh racing home under the posts. Connor Robinson had a tough day with the boot, converting just two of the Knights five tries – all three missed conversions coming from tough touch line attempts.
Bass then added the first of his two tries when the Knights moved the ball out to the left edge and stretched the Hornets defence, allowing the full back to crash over for a 0-10 lead after 17 minutes.
York extended the lead to 14 points in the 23rd minute after Whiteley made a powerful 60 metre break upfield and earned a penalty. The ball was shipped out to the right edge for Mazive to finish well in the corner.
Rochdale refused to allow their heads to drop and got on the board just before the half hour mark when Lewis Sheridan got on the end of a ricocheting kick to score by the posts, with Dan Abram goaling.
Bass’ second try – a carbon copy of his first – just before half time gave the Knights an important 6-18 lead heading into the sheds for the break.
The second half was a largely forgettable affair as both teams ran with a completion rate well below 50%, each going through a catalogue of errors in a frustratingly scrappy 40 minutes of rugby.
Rochdale struck first in the 53rd minute and reduced the visitors’ lead to 12-18 when Liam Carberry hit a flat ball to cross.
Connor Robinson produced a sublime piece of individual skill when dummying straight through the Hornets defence untouched on the last tackle, then laying on a stroll in try for the supporting Jack Blagbrough. Robinson’s conversion gave the Knights a crucial two score cushion at 12-24 approaching the hour mark.
Rochdale continued to press and were rewarded in the 70th minute when winger Brandon Wood somehow got the ball down to score. It appeared that the touch judge had ruled that Mazive and Hey had forced him into touch but the try was given, Abram’s touchline conversion making it 24-18 with 10 minutes to go.
The Hornets nearly scored what would have been a deserved leveller when Bass fumbled while attempting to avoid conceding a third 40/20 kick, instead grounding the ball in-goal just before the onrushing attackers got to him. The Knights were penalised for a late challenge on Scott Moore, but the full time hooter brought relief to the players and the large group of travelling supporters.
York now turn their attentions to the Summer Bash at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road this weekend, when they take on Featherstone Rovers on Saturday, 18th May (5.45pm). You can purchase a Day or Weekend pass and if you are a Season Ticket holder you get a 50% discount.
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Rochdale: J Johnson, Hamlett, Case, Worthington, Wood, Sheridan, Abram, Mitchell, Moore, Cottington, Gillam, L Johnson, Moores. Subs (all used): Gregory, Ryan, Coleman, Carberry.
Tries: Sheridan (27), Carberry (53), B Wood (70).
Goals: Abram (3/3).
Knights: Bass, Mazive, Salter, Hey, Whiteley, Marsh, Robinson, Baldwinson, Jubb, Teanby, Jordan-Roberts, Stock, Spears. Subs (all used): Brining, Kelly, Blagbrough, Porter.
Tries: Marsh (6), Bass (17, 37), Mazive (23), Blagbrough (56).
Goals: Robinson (2/5).
Isaac Poad Man of the Match: Will Jubb