Knights weather Thunder in 1895 Cup: Sunday 2nd June - 1895 Cup
By Joe Smith.
York City Knights are just two wins from Wembley after a hard fought 30-16 win over Newcastle Thunder in humid conditions at Bootham Crescent in the second round of the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup.
Head Coach James Ford made five changes to the team that completed a league double over Widnes Vikings last week, with Graeme Horne, Sam Scott and Liam Salter all rested ahead of the huge game at home to Toulouse next Saturday. Perry Whiteley was dropped and on-loan Harry Aldous was not allowed to play against his parent club. In came Michael Kelly, Jack Blagbrough, Tyler Dupree, Jason Bass and Kevin Brown.
If York were expecting an easy encounter against the team sitting fifth in League One then that was swiftly proved wrong. An impressive start from Newcastle Thunder saw the visitors open the scoring just after the ten minute mark as Simon Finnigan’s men made good field position count. After Will Jubb knocked on 30m from his own line, York struggled to deal with their former player Joel Edwards as his offload early in the set gave Newcastle an excellent chance and, on the last, they took it.
An excellent dummy-half grubber from Keal Carlile was chased in by Evan Simons who opened the scoring for Thunder. Almost immediately, though, the Knights hit back. With Newcastle knocking on on the second, York were gifted a scrum 20m out and, on the first, it was well worked from right to left through Connor Robinson and Matty Marsh before Junior Vaivai released his fellow Hull KR loanee Will Oakes to run in the try unopposed.
Again, though, it was Newcastle who impressed and back-rower Conor Fitzsimmons gave them the lead. After excellent close-range defence from York stopped two Thunder efforts, Fitzsimmons evaded two would-be challenges with excellent footwork to cross. Thereafter, Vaivai took the game by the scruff of the neck. Shortly after the half-hour mark, the powerhouse centre made a half-break and, with Newcastle defenders clutching to his shirt on halfway, he offloaded excellently to Marsh who drew in full-back Lewis Young before providing hooker Kriss Brining with the easiest of finishes. Robinson converted to tie the game up and he would then play provider at the Knights took the lead with fifteen seconds remaining of the half.
After Newastle coughed up field position with a knock on, Tyler Dupree was held up over the line. The next play, though, saw Brining pass wide to Robinson who grubbered excellently for Vaivai to finish. When Robinson converted, it was 16-10 at half-time to the third placed team in the Championship.
James Ford’s half-time team talk looked to have had the desired effect as, after a tight first half, the Knights started the second half well, registering the first score of the second period after 46 minutes when Jack Blagbrough took the ball into contact on halfway and bounced off, an excellent offload gave Brining the chance to evade a tackle or two before returning the favour Marsh paid him in the first half, the full-back going over under the sticks. Thereafter, however, Newcastle looked to dominate the next twenty minutes without scoring. Indeed, the York fans were growing restless – least of all with the official.
When Liam Harris claimed a loose ball on the Knights’ goal line and raced the full length of the pitch with support to ground, the home fans thought they had sealed the win – only for the official to pull the play back for an offside call much to the Knights players’ confusion. Newcastle, though, were unable to make field position or possession count and it wasn’t until the 73rd minute that York sealed the victory with a try from Marcus Stock, the former Hemel player finding and going through a gap and grounding despite defensive attention.
Lewis Young crossed late on for Newcastle but it was simply a consolation for the visitors who, despite defeat, certainly showed up well against their higher division opponents. York, however, will be delighted to have progressed to the Quarter-Finals of the competition thanks to this hard-fought victory.
Attentions now turn to the visit of second-placed Toulouse Olympique to Bootham Crescent this Saturday (June 8th) in a huge game in the Betfred Championship, with the Knights looking to continue their surprise play-off push and celebrate York Pride 2019. Get your tickets online now from Eventbrite HERE!
Knights: Marsh, Brown, Bass, Vaivai, Oakes, Harris, Robinson, Teanby, Jubb, Stock, Jordan-Roberts, Kelly, Spears. Subs (all used): Brining, Blagbrough, Porter, Dupree
Tries: Oakes (14), Brining (34), Vaivai (39), Marsh (46), Stock (73).
Goals: Robinson (5/6).
Thunder: Young, Clegg, Craig, Brown, Taulapapa, Coates, Lewis, Edwards, Carlile, Doyle-Manga, Fitzsimmons, Clarke, Simons. Subs (all used): Charlton, Ollett, Blanke, Agoro.
Tries: Simons (12), Fitzsimmons (29), Young (78).
Goals: Coates (0/1), Lewis (2/2).
Isaac Poad Man of the Match: Junior Vaivai