Knights respond to stun Vikings: Sunday 26th May - Betfred Championship
History has a funny way of repeating itself as for the second time in this Betfred Championship season York City Knights bounced back from a heavy defeat to Featherstone by beating Widnes Vikings to return to third place in the table.
Knights Head Coach James Ford made six changes to the team that disappointed at the Blackpool Summer Bash last week, with loan duo Junior Vaivai and Will Oakes making their debuts. Sam Scott, Graeme Horne, Kriss Brining and Josh Jordan-Roberts also returned to the 17 as the Knights crippling injury problems finally start to ease.
York got off to the worst possible start when Connor Robinson tried to field a short attacking kick behind his own line before losing control, handing Lloyd Roby an easy try. Sam Freeman converted.
The Knights had a great chance to hit back almost immediately when Liam Salter created an overlap but Perry Whiteley dropped the ball with the clear line at his mercy. York refused to let their heads drop though and continued to pose threats across the park as Connor Robinson and Liam Harris showed flashes of their flourishing partnership that was first formed in 2017.
A fantastic one-two between Harris and captain Tim Spears was the catalyst for York’s first try after 15 minutes, when Harris touched down under the posts. Robinson added the extras to level the scores.
A howler from on-loan duo Oakes & Vaivai allowed Widnes to retake the lead, as Oakes mistimed a drop off coming out from deep within his own half and Vaivai’s fumbled allowed Joe Lyons to stroll in for an easy try. This was the pair’s only error in an otherwise incredibly strong performance however, shoring up the Knights left edge with both pace and power.
Vaivai shrugged off the error and virtually single-handedly dragged York back into the game just three minutes later, powering over the Widnes try line despite having four Viking defenders on his back. Robinson’s conversion attempt went wide and the teams headed into the sheds all square at the break, 10-10.
The Vikings started the second half strongly and enjoyed the majority of territory and possession in the first twenty minutes, but were met with some resolute Knights defence on the fast 4G pitch and only came away with a Freeman penalty goal to edge the score out to 12-10 around the hour mark.
York took the lead for the first time in the game in the 65th minute thanks to another piece of outstanding centre play from Vaivai – the USA international drew in three edge defenders before getting the ball away round the back of a Widnes player to send Oakes racing home from 15 meters out. Robinson expertly added the conversion from the touchline and the Knights led 12-16.
Widnes frantically searched for an equalising try throughout the closing stages of the match, but once again York’s defence once again heroically held firm to secure a memorable league double over their former Super League counterparts.
The Knights now turn their attentions to the road to Wembley as they prepare to face League 1 Newcastle Thunder in the second round of the inaugural 1895 Cup at Bootham Crescent next Sunday (2nd June) at 3pm. Tickets are priced at just £15 adults and £10 concessions. Under 16s are completely free as always.
Fans can also take advantage of our #FlamingJune offer, and purchase one ticket for all 4 home games in June for just £50 adults and £40 concessions. Call the office now on 01904 876527 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
Widnes: Freeman, Buckley, Roby, Brand, Ince, Craven, Lyons, Cahill, Ganson, Hansen, Wilde, Dean, Johnstone. Subs (all used): T Chapelhow, Walker, Farnworth, Norman.
Tries: Roby (5), Lyons (34).
Goals: Freeman (2/3).
Knights: Marsh, Whiteley, Salter, Vaivai, Oakes, Harris, Robinson, Teanby, Jubb, Aldous, Jordan-Roberts, Scott, Spears. Subs (all used): Brining,, Horne, Stock, Porter.
Tries: Harris (15), Vaivai (37), Oakes (65).
Goals: Robinson (2/3).
Isaac Poad Man of the Match: Junior Vaivai