Knights hold off late Swinton fightback to go third: Sunday 7th April - Betfred Championship
York City Knights equalled a modern club record of 6 wins in a Betfred Championship season yesterday, but were made to work hard for it by determined visitors Swinton Lions at a chilly Bootham Crescent.
Knights Head Coach James Ford brought back a number of players who sat out the cup win at Barrow last week, with Liam Salter, Ben Cockayne, Connor Robinson, Graeme Horne, Joe Batchelor and Ronan Dixon, along with fit-again Jason Bass and Toronto Wolfpack loanee Nick Rawsthorne, who had been due his second club debut last week before pulling up in the warm-up.
Captain Tim Spears broke the early deadlock by crashing over next to the posts on a last tackle powerplay in the 15th minute with Robinson duly adding the extras, but Swinton struck back almost immediately. York lost the ball early in the tackle count and compounded that by conceding a penalty, with Lions full back Jack Hansen ran a great line to cross in the left edge corner.
The arm-wrestle continued before York struck with two crucial blows from full back Matty Marsh late in the first half. The first came off the back of a huge three-man tackle that drove Swinton winger Matt Ashton back 10 meters and forced an error, and from the resulting set Marsh chimed into the attacking line down the left edge before stepping over. A strong run with some fleeting footwork from forward Marcus Stock created Marsh’s second just three minutes later, and the Knights took a hard-earned 18-4 lead into the sheds at the break.
York extended their lead to 20 points in the 53rd minute when back row Sam Scott ran on to a well timed short ball from Cockayne and powered over from 15 meters out.
Swinton kept their hopes of victory alive when Harry Smith scored a fantastic individual try on the hour mark – the Lions half back kicked through the Knights defensive line 20 meters out and regathered himself before rounding Marsh to score. He converted his own try and the score was 24-10 with twenty minutes remaining.
York effectively killed the game off five minutes later when Cockayne broke through the Lions defence before sending the supporting Graeme Horne home to score. Rawsthorne took over conversion duties from Connor Robinson who nursed a hamstring concern through the closing stages.
York had to withstand a late fightback from a spirited Swinton team, who scored two late tries – the first from Liam Forsyth after some good shape from right to left created space for the centre to score, before Luke Waterworth rounded off the scoring in bizarre fashion. The Lions hooker scored a quick tap penalty on the try line while the Knights medical staff attended to injury concerns from Cockayne and a nasty cut to centre Jason Bass, but the injury hit Knights managed to close the game out 30-20 and moved to third in the Betfred Championship table after 9 rounds, with a game in hand.
The match ended on a disappointing note for Swinton, as Harry Smith was shown a red card for serious dissent after the final whistle.
There are concerns with injuries to Cockayne (knee) and Robinson (hamstring) after a bruising encounter. Both half backs will face fitness tests ahead of the Coral Challenge Cup round 5 next weekend, with the Knights looking to progress in a tough tie at Widnes Vikings on Saturday evening. Call the office now on 01904 876527 to book your place on the supporter’s bus for just £15!
KNIGHTS: Marsh, Mazive, Bass, Salter, Rawsthorne, Cockayne, Robinson, Teanby, Jubb, Horne, Batchelor, Scott, Spears. Subs (all used): Brining, Dixon, Stock, Porter.
Tries: Spears (15), Marsh (34, 37), Scott (53), Horne (66).
Goals: Robinson (4/4), Rawsthorne (1/1).
LIONS: Hansen, Butt, Lloyd, Forsyth, Ashton, Smith, Thomas, Bennion, Waterworth, Jones, Wells, Shelford, Brickhill. Subs (all used): Ganson, Hall, Kenga, Aaronson.
Goals: Thomas (0/1), Smith (2,3)
Sent Off: Smith – Foul & abusive language (after final whistle)
Isaac Poad Man of the Match: Joe Porter