Knights knocked out by rampant Rovers: Saturday 21st September - Betfred Championship
York City Knights fairytale season came to an end in the autumnal sunshine at Bootham Crescent on Saturday afternoon as Featherstone Rovers cruised to a 4-30 victory to progress to week 3 of the Betfred Championship play-offs.
The 2018 League 1 Champions surpassed all expectations by finishing the regular season in third place, but the high intensity of the play-offs proved to be one step too far for James Ford’s battered squad. Featherstone meanwhile appear to be hitting their straps at just the right time with their second convincing away victory in as many weeks.
Featherstone named an unchanged 17 that dispatched Leigh Centurions last week, while the Knights gave late fitness tests to Perry Whiteley, Will Oakes, Jason Bass, Liam Salter and Graeme Horne. Veteran hooker and former Fev star Andy Ellis was a surprise inclusion on the bench.
Both teams came out to a carnival atmosphere, complete with pyrotechnics in front of the Sky Sports cameras backing up the 3,222 strong crowd – including an impressive 1,200 travelling Fev fans – before the ground fell impeccably silent to remember former York Academy player Senior Aircraftman Scott Stevenson who sadly died after playing for the RAF last week, and lifelong Featherstone fan Mark Scoffins.
York started on the back foot after letting the kick off bounce out before conceding three consecutive ruck penalties as referee Ben Thaler asserted his boundaries early on, and the Knights defence held firm throughout four consecutive sets.
The Knights worked themselves into the game and enjoyed a good spell of possession and territory before taking a 4-0 lead with two Connor Robinson penalty goals, but this was the only time the home team troubled the scoreboard operator.
Fev took the lead in the 26th minute when Makahesi Makatoa crashed over off the back of a cheap penalty. Dane Chisholm converted, and extended Rovers’ lead in the 33rd minute with a penalty goal.
Rovers were looking strong with McLelland and Chisholm creating plenty off the back of some devastating running from the pack – in particular Brad Day, but the Knights were still in the game thanks in particular to efforts from former Hemel forward Marcus Stock and full back Matty Marsh, who pulled off a number of try saving tackles.
Two Rovers tries in three minutes after half time dealt the Knights a killer blow they ultimately never recovered from. First came James Harrison on the angle after being put through a gap by McLelland, before Day brushed off two tacklers to power over for a 4-20 lead in the 50th minute.
The visitors continued to assert their dominance over a visibly tiring York team, with Connor Jones relentlessly probing around the quick rucks, and two further tries in the last ten minutes put the gloss on a fine performance – although the final scoreline perhaps a touch harsh on a Knights team that gave their all.
First a high cross field kick was well taken from Jack Jones, who then raced 90 meters to score – Liam Salter tried his best to chase back despite struggling with broken ribs. He was then withdrawn to save himself from any more pain as the Knights finished the game with just 12 fit men.
Jack Render finished the scoring with a well deserved try in the 76th minute, taking advantage of numbers with an overlap to score by the right edge corner flag. Chisholm missed his first kick off the afternoon, but it mattered little at 4-30.
Featherstone will now travel to Toulouse/Toronto next week in confident mood, but are sweating on the fitness of Brad Day and Josh Walters.
York meanwhile can be proud of what they have achieved in a thrilling maiden Championship campaign.
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Knights: Matty Marsh, Will Oakes, Jason Bass, Brad Hey , Perry Whiteley, Liam Harris, Connor Robinson, Marcus Stock, Will Jubb, Jack Teanby, Liam Salter, Sam Scott, Tim Spears. Subs (all used): Andy Ellis, Graeme Horne, Ronan Dixon, Jordan Baldwinson.
Goals: Robinson 2/2.
Featherstone: Aston Golding, Jack Johnson, Josh Hardcastle, Alex Sutcliffe, Conor Carey, Callum McLelland, Dane Chisholm, Makahesi Makatoa, Connor Jones, John Davies, Brad Day, Josh Walters, James Lockwood. Subs (all used): Luke Cooper, James Harrison, Jack Render, Wellington Albert.
Tries: Makatoa (26), Harrison (47), Day (50), Johnson (71), Render (76).
Goals: Chisholm 5/6.
Isaac Poad Man of the Match: Matty Marsh