Knights sign off 2021 with victory over London: Sunday 19th September - Betfred Championship
York City Knights 32 (14)-(6) 22 London Broncos
This afternoon’s match against London Broncos might have had nothing on the line from a league perspective, but there was certainly a reason for James Ford’s Knights to end the season on a high.
Bidding farewell to the retiring Ryan Atkins, James Green, Danny Washbrook and club legend Tim Spears, Ford named a team which included teenage trio AJ Towse, Myles Harrison and Toby Warren – the latter two so impressive last time out against Newcastle – alongside the four veterans ending their careers.
Played in great conditions which only improved as the match progressed, both teams went set for set in the opening ten minutes with mistakes at a premium. However, when the Knights made one attacking, London made it count. Working their way upfield and with a set restart in their favour, Greg Richards opened the scoring for the Broncos from a close-range pass. Chris Hankinson added the two.
Three minutes later, the raucous Knights fans had something to celebrate, however. An excellent kick from the impressive Matty Marsh ricocheted off the posts to fall kindly for captain Chris Clarkson to score his sixth try of the season. Myles Harrison, again with the kicking duties, converted to level the scores just short of the quarter-hour mark.
Four minutes later, another kick, this time from Harrison, saw the Knights into the lead. A low grubber to the in-goal proved too tricky for former Wigan-bound Abbas Miski to handle and, with Jason Bass and Tyme Dow-Nikau diving to ground, it was the former who did so to give the Knights the lead. Harrison’s conversion attempt missed to the right, but the Knights hit the front and would not go on to relinquish that lead.
In a game that more resembled the Knights victory over London in the Betfred Challenge Cup earlier this year rather than the reverse league encounter, both teams were giving as good as they got with neither able to force an opening – until five minutes before the break.
Reborn as a prop, Danny Kirmond was the beneficiary of a close range pass from Washbrook, a man who came off the interchange bench to impress in his final match. Kirmond crashed over close to the sticks but Harrison was unable to convert as the ball hit the post.
Nevertheless, the Knights held a deserved 14-6 lead at the break and, within minutes of the resumption, Marsh ended the week he signed his new deal in style. An excellent break up the right flank from Bass saw the winger draw in the full-back before passing inside to Marsh – in support, as ever – who rounded to score under the sticks. Harrison’s conversion attempt was good and, with 43 minutes on the clock, the Knights led by fourteen.
Ten minutes later, that lead was stretched further with Marsh again pivotal. Working the ball from centre to the right flank, Marsh drew in the defenders before passing wide to Dow-Nikau. The centre, denied in the first half, wouldn’t miss this opportunity and, after showing to pass to Bass, stretched out excellently to ground. Harrison’s conversion attempt was, this time, unsuccessful.
From the kick-off, London went short as they began to chase the game but interchange Jarrod Sammut could only knock it into touch. The Knights promptly marched upfield and, after Sammut went for an interception but couldn’t hold on, a new set deep in London territory ended in a moment that will live long in the memory.
Washbrook, superb throughout on his final appearance and at this stage in the halves due to Aidan McGowan picking up an injury, produced a piece of magic to sign off in style. Taking the ball to the line and showing inside to Clarkson, the 36-year-old ghosted through the line and, despite the attention of three Broncos men, got the try that saw every Knights player celebrate with him. Harrison added the two and, despite a late London fightback, the game was won with twenty minutes left.
Shortly after Washbrook’s try, Knights legend Tim Spears left the pitch for what everyone assumed would be the last time. The masses in attendance took to their feet to applaud the efforts of a man who has become synonymous with the success of the Knights in recent years.
Alas, he would come back on for one more cheer as a head injury replacement with minutes remaining.
Thirteen minutes before the end of proceedings, Hankinson went through a gap in the Knights defence to get London’s first score of the second period and four minutes later, Jacob Jones was able to force his way over from close range. Hankinson converted the latter to make it 30-16 with eight minutes remaining.
Titus Gwaze, impressive throughout, scored another for London with two minutes remaining with Hankinson converting, but it was the Knights – and another retiree – who had the last word on the scoreboard.
With the hooter sounding, Sammut put a shocking, low tackle in on Green which sparked a melee with every player involved. The Maltese half-back was shown the yellow card and it was James Green, on his final appearance, who nonchalantly knocked over the two points to sign off his career.
The Knights haven’t achieved what was hoped this season, but the strong end to the season and the development of several members of the squad – not least teenage trio Towse, Harrison and Warren – gives plenty of cause for optimism for 2022.
A brilliant atmosphere was provided by the fans in party mood, as well as the junior players from local community clubs who packed out the stands for our final match of 2021.
York City Knights – Myles Harrison, Jason Bass (19’), Tyme Dow-Nikau (54’), Ryan Atkins, AJ Towse, Matty Marsh (43’), Aidan McGowan, Jack Teanby, Will Jubb, James Green, Toby Warren, Sam Scott, Chris Clarkson (14’)
Interchanges – Danny Washbrook (59’), Marcus Stock, Danny Kirmond (34’), Tim Spears
Tries – Chris Clarkson (14’), Jason Bass (19’), Danny Kirmond (34’), Matty Marsh (43’), Tyme Dow-Nikau (54’), Danny Washbrook (59’)
Goals – Myles Harrison (3), James Green
London Broncos – Chris Hankinson, Tuoyo Egodo, Josh Hodson, Ed Chamberlain, Abbas Miski, James Meadows, Oliver Leyland, Greg Richards, Matty Fozard, Titus Gwaze, Sadiq Adebiyi, Will Lovell, Josh Walters
Interchanges – Daniel Hindmarsh, Pat Moran, Jacob Jones, Jarrod Sammut
Tries – Greg Richards (11’), Chris Hankinson (67’), Jacob Jones (71’), Titus Gwaze (78’)
Goals – Chris Hankinson (3)
Sin-bin – Jarrod Sammut (80’)
Picture courtesy of Jordan Benjamin-Sutton, not for reuse.