Spirited Knights fall to Wigan defeat: Friday 9th April - Betfred Challenge Cup
York City Knights (0) 0-26 (14) Wigan Warriors
A spirited Knights performance saw James Ford’s team leave Friday’s match against Wigan Warriors in Round Three of the Betfred Challenge Cup with their reputation enhanced, despite a 26-0 defeat.
Missing several first-choice players through injury, a much-changed Knights team took to the field from the one which lost 6-21 to Toulouse Olympique last Saturday.
The first quarter saw the Knights start well, with 17-year-old full-back Myles Harrison making a good impression throughout his debut for the club. James Green, named Official Man of the Match, started very strong and the Knights were close to the first score of the match. Working the ball to the right, Tyme Dow-Nikau threatened the try line but Wigan’s left edge were able to force him into touch.
It was twenty minutes in, though, where Wigan’s top-end talent showed it’s class with full-back Zak Hardaker, the Super League Grand Final winner gliding through the Knights’ defensive line with an arcing run. Any viewers watching the coverage live on The Sportsman who thought the Knights’ defence would break, however, were wrong. Strong work from Ford’s team made Wigan work for absolutely everything they got and, after Hardaker’s try, it was the Knights’ turn again to have some territory and put Wigan under pressure.
With three repeat sets deep in Wigan’s half, aided by a brilliant grubber kick from half-back Matty Marsh which forced a goal-line drop out, York repeatedly went close but were unable to break down Wigan’s fierce defence.
Then, late in the first half, two Wigan tries in three minutes – taken ruthlessly – extended the Super League team’s lead. First, Sam Halsall was able to gather Jackson Hastings’ towering kick and then Wigan simply worked the ball along the line before Harry Smith went over in the corner. Halsall himself then scored his first professional try, slick hands seeing the centre through a gap. Hardaker kicked his first conversion and Adrian Lam’s side led 0-14 at the break.
The Knights started the second half strong, in a much-improved performance following the Toulouse defeat last weekend, and again put Wigan under pressure. Marsh continued his impressive performance by forcing a knock on from Warriors winger Umyla Hanley with a spiralling kick which the Wigan man was unable to take cleanly out of the night sky.
The Knights worked the ball to our left edge in the resulting set but, despite working an overlap, Wigan’s scrambling defence was able to force Kieran Dixon into touch.
Moments later, Wigan were in again through Hanley. Working the ball to their left, Hastings threw a dummy and ghosted through the line. The former NRL star and Super League Man of Steel winner drew in full-back Harrison and passed wide to Hanley to go over in the corner. Hardaker’s successful conversion brought the score to 0-20.
Soon after, Wigan scored a fourth try on the back of a set restart and a penalty. Seemingly tackled, powerful forward Tony Clubb was able to turn free and fall over the line, giving Hardaker his simplest conversion of the night.
Harrison wasn’t the only teenage debutant for the Knight, though, and when fellow Heworth product AJ Towse took to the field in the last quarter, the winger made his presence known.
A big pass wide released Hanley on Wigan’s left wing and, looking for an acrobatic finish, Towse forced the knock on from the Warriors man to much acclaim.
Ultimately, the Knights ended the game without scoring but with a much-improved showing after our opening round defeat to the Betfred Championship season.
York: Myles Harrison, Perry Whiteley, Tyme Dow-Nikau, Liam Salter, Kieran Dixon, Matty Marsh, Danny Washbrook, James Green, Will Jubb, Adam Cuthbertson, Joe Porter, Sam Scott, Tim Spears.
Subs (all used): Dan Barcoe, Ronan Dixon, Marcus Stock, AJ Towse.
Wigan: Zak Hardaker, Jake Bibby, Willie Isa, Sam Halsall, Umyla Hanley, Harry Smith, Jackson Hastings, Joe Bullock, Sam Powell, Brad Singleton, John Bateman, Morgan Smithies, Oliver Partington.
Subs (all used): Liam Byrne, Tony Clubb, Ethan Havard, Joe Shorrocks.
Tries: Zak Hardaker (20), Harry Smith (32), Sam Halsall (35), Umyla Hanley (51), Tony Clubb (61)
Goals: Zak Hardaker (3/5)
Official Man of the Match: James Green
Top Image: Craig Hawkhead. Not for reuse.