Knights make play-offs with Rovers Revenge in Retro Round: Sunday 18th August - Betfred Championship
York City Knights confirmed their place in the Betfred Championship play-offs for the first time in their history with a resilient 22-18 victory over in-form Featherstone Rovers at Bootham Crescent yesterday.
A fantastic crowd of 3,115 were present – with the vast majority celebrating the special ‘Retro Round’ theme by wearing all kinds of weird, wonderful and classic shirts from a bygone era – and they were treated to another all-time classic encounter between the two Yorkshire rivals.
This 17th victory of the Championship season now matches the 17 wins that York managed to earn in their previous four seasons at this level combined, and the Knights record in games settled by 7 points of fewer since the start of 2018 now stands at an incredible (20-1-5).
James Ford – who celebrated 100 wins as Knights Head Coach yesterday – made seven changes to the team that travelled to Canada last weekend. Perry Whiteley came back in on the wing, and Kriss Brining was back as interchange hooker, while Ronan Dixon, Graeme Horne, Joe Porter, Sam Scott and captain Tim Spears were all returned to add considerable experience in the pack.
There was a minute’s silence before the game following the tragic death of Batley Bulldogs player Archie Bruce who made his debut on Saturday against Toulouse Olympique. The thoughts of everyone at the Knights are with the club and Archie’s family.
York got off to the worst possible start when at the end of the very first set, Featherstone quickly worked the ball down the left edge for Jack Render to round off under the posts. Chisholm converted and the visitors led 0-6 after just 70 seconds.
The Knights suffered a further blow less than ten minutes in when Liam Salter clashed heads with Featherstone’s Brad Day and his game was over. Joe Porter – playing his first league game since June 8th – reverted from forward to right centre for the remainder of the match and produced a fine performance – apart from one forward pass straight off a penalty tap!
Featherstone continued their relentless pressure throughout the first half and doubled their lead to 0-12 with twenty minutes gone thanks to a crafty show-and-go from half back Callum McLelland. With the two previous results of 42-10 and 42-12 against Featherstone this season, it looked ominous for the Knights. But they had other ideas…
A fantastic break down the left wing from Connor Robinson, then Perry Whiteley & Matty Marsh, ultimately saw Jason Bass brought down just short of the line. With the Rovers defence still all at sea, Dane Chisholm held on for far too long and was sent for ten minutes in the sin-bin. This sparked the Knights into life and Will Oakes crossed on the overlap just two plays later to get York on the board after 36 minutes.
With their tails up the Knights got a roll on and all of a sudden were back to just two points on the brink of half time thanks to Kriss Brining’s close range scoot from dummy half. Robinson’s conversion attempt hit the post and the teams went into the sheds at 10-12.
After the break, Chisholm returned from the sin-bin to edge Featherstone’s lead to 10-14 with a penalty for holding down on former Knight John Davies. McLelland looked certain to score his second try but dropped the ball over the line, before tremendous defensive work from Oakes and Marsh kept out Alex Sutcliffe as the Knights desperately kept themselves in the game.
York incredibly took the lead for the first time in the 65th minute when veteran forward Graeme Horne somehow grounded the ball despite the attentions of a number of Rovers defenders. Robinson converted and the Knights were now 16-14 in front.
The Knights gained a slice of luck with ten minutes remaining when a Robinson kick for touch struck the roaming Featherstone physio and were awarded the scrum, and from the resulting set forced a goal line drop out to pile on the pressure. As the Knights probed, Chisholm raced out of the defensive line in search of an interception try, but was left red-faced as Liam Harris spotted his movement early and put Joe Porter through the gap left behind for a simple try and a crucial 8 point lead with as many minutes remaining.
Featherstone ensured that there would still be a grandstand finish when Sutcliffe stretched out to score with just two minutes remaining, but the Knights resolutely held firm and as Connor Robinson launched the ball into the Bootham Crescent Main Stand at the full time hooter, York’s maiden Betfred Championship play-off place was confirmed.
The Knights now enjoy a well deserved week off while the Coral Challenge Cup & AB Sundecks 1895 Cup Finals at Wembley Stadium next Saturday, and will return to action on September 1st with a trip to third placed Leigh Centurions. Travel on the York Pullman supporter’s bus to any UK away game in 2019 for just £15 Adults (£10 concessions) – to book your place contact the office on 01904 876527 or email firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP!
Knights: Marsh, W Oakes, Salter, Bass, Whiteley, Harris, Robinson, Dixon, Jubb, Horne, Porter, S Scott, Spears. Subs (all used): Brining, Baldwinson, Stock, Teanby.
Tries: Oakes (36), Brining (39), Horne (65), Porter (72).
Goals: Robinson (3/4).
Featherstone: Golding, Render, Sutcliffe, Carey, Johnson, Chisholm, McLelland, Albert, C King, Harrison, Day, Walters, Lockwood. Subs (all used): Cooper, Davies, Jones, Makatoa.
Tries: Render (2), McLelland (20), Sutcliffe (78).
Goals: Chisholm (3/4).
Sin-binned: Chisholm (35).
Isaac Poad Man of the match: Graeme Horne