Second half show seals Knights victory at Coventry: Saturday 12th May - League 1
A dominant six-try second half performance saw York City Knights overcome a spirited Coventry Bears at Butts Park Arena to register their eight consecutive 2018 Betfred League 1 victory.
The Knights had made five changes to the team that had held on for victory at Hunslet last week, with Ash Robson returning on the wing, Liam Jackson at half-back, second-row Mike Kelly, prop Dan Hawksworth, and Featherstone loan hooker Danny Maskill on debut. They replaced winger Tommy Saxton, dual-reg full-back Will Dagger, centre Jake Butler-Fleming, prop Graeme Horne and hooker Andy Ellis – the latter three all resting knocks.
York raced into an early 0-18 lead inside the opening 12 minutes. First there was no stopping Adam Robinson from close range with just two minutes on the clock. A classic close range try from dummy half by Will Jubb extended the Knights lead, then Tim Spears was the beneficiary of a dropped high kick to score. Connor Robinson successfully converted all three – and nine out of ten attempts on the day – to extend his current British rugby league scoring record to 26 games, incredibly scoring in every game he has played for the Knights.
Coventry Bears refused to let their heads drop however, and thanks to three quickfire tries of their own in just 11 minutes they were suddenly back on level terms. A Chis Siddons offload in midfield went to ground and Jacob Ogden pounced to race home. Then a series of penalties conceded by the sloppy Knights allowed hooker Richie Hughes to burrow over from close range. A fantastic 40/20 from Bears half Ben Stead set up field position for prop Peter Ryan to stroll over to score under the posts without a hand laid on him. Stead successfully converted all three tries and it was 18-18 at the half hour mark.
The Knights regained the lead somewhat fortuitously just before the break, as Dan Hawksworth swooped on a loose Coventry pass close to their own try line to score. Robinson goaled and a disappointing Knights took a slender 18-24 lead into the sheds.
Whatever head coach James Ford said to his team at the break certainly worked as York stepped up a few gears in the second half, producing the kind of clinical performance that is expected these days.
A well-timed pass from rookie half Liam Jackson put Ronan Dixon over, before Ash Robson jumped highest to score off a well placed Connor Robinson kick and the Knights were back in control. A trademark ‘Hollywood’ finish from Judah Mazive gave York more breathing space, and the game was over as a contest when former Coventry back rower Joe Batchelor bagged himself two tries in quick succession. The scoring was rounded off in the dying moments when back-to-back penalties gifted York field position, and Ben Cockayne created space for Brad Hey to cross and seal an ultimately comfortable 18-58 victory.
The Knights now go in search of a ninth consecutive league victory to keep the pressure on leaders Bradford Bulls by turning their attentions to Hemel Stags, who visit Bootham Crescent next Sunday, 20th May at 3pm.
Bears: Bass, Hunte, Pearce-Paul, Ogden, Freeman, Rice-Wilson, Stead, Geurtjens, Hughes, Ryan, Bateman, Gray, Vitilani. Subs (all used): Lord, Kaufman, Lloyd-Jones, Williams.
Tries: Ogden (15), Hughes (23), Ryan (26).
Conversions: Stead (3/3).
Knights: Cockayne, Robson, Batchelor, Hey, Mazive, C Robinson, Jackson, A Robinson, Jubb, Siddons, Kelly, Scott, Spears. Subs (all used): Maskill, Hawksworth, Ronan Dixon, Porter.
Tries: Adam Robinson (6), Jubb (9), Spears (12), Hawksworth (38), Dixon (46), Robson (51), Mazive (59), Batchelor (64, 69), Hey (78).
Conversions: C Robinson (9/10).
Isaac Poad Man of the Match: Dan Hawksworth.