HEAD coach Gary Thornton hailed the efforts of winger Ben Dent after his hat-trick against South Wales Scorpions took him to the top of York City Knights’ try-scoring charts – and helped to lift his side back to the Championship One summit.
Dent scored after only 90 seconds, got a second midway through the first half and completed his treble after 54 minutes to send his side to a 48-10 win at Glan-Yr-Afon Park in Blackwood.
It took the 22-year-old’s try tally to 13 in 14 games in his first full season as a first-teamer, and one above captain Jack Lee, who notched his 12th touchdown in ten games.
Said Thornton of Dent: “He’s been in great form.
“In Ben and James Saltonstall we’ve got some really good on form young wingers. They have contrasting styles – James works hard for the team and gets us going forward, and Ben finishes off plays and scores lots of tries.
“What I like about Ben is he works hard all the time and he accepts criticism and works to improve. He thoroughly deserved his chance and he’s taken it.”
Dent, the former New Earswick All Blacks amateur who came through the Knights’ under-21s and reserves, played five times in the Championship in 2012 and nine times last year, but had to wait until the last three games of last season to bag his first two tries and nail down a berth. He’s been one of only three ever-presents this term, with Jack Lee and Ed Smith.
Said Thornton: “He didn’t have lots of opportunities last year but he’s worked hard on his game and deserves to be in the team. I’m delighted for him that he’s getting reward for his hard work.”
Thornton also reckoned Dent’s rise can be an incentive to other hopeful youngsters at local amateur clubs.
“We’re all about that,” he said. “We want to encourage that. The more local lads in the team the better.”
Thornton also praised another home-grown starlet, Kriss Brining, after he returned to the 17 after three months out with a broken ankle. He didn’t retake his replacement hooker spot from teenager Harry Carter but instead came off the bench in the back row – seen by many as his future position.
Said Thornton: “Harry’s been going pretty well but we wanted to give Kriss some good minutes and this was an ideal opportunity.
“He played a bit at loose-forward and a bit in the back row. He defends well and carries the ball hard. He went well. Apart from a couple of dodgy tackles where he lifted a bit, his defence was strong and he was good. It’s good to have him back.”
He added: “I’m delighted with the three points – it’s what we came for. It’s a tough journey down and it wasn’t the best playing surface but, taking everything into consideration, we did really well.
“There were a few sloppy areas but we came down here to get the win and that’s what we got.
“We’re a pretty young side and you tend to get inconsistency with young players – even within games they can be inconsistent. But we’re learning along the way.
“This was a potential banana skin against a very enthusiastic Scorpions team. But I think we are learning – we’re getting there. We were well-prepared and had trained well, and we put in a performance that, at times, was really good.
“Defensively I thought we were very solid. We were unlucky with their last try as it was a very awkward bounce, but they threw plenty at us in the first half especially and our defence was very good.
“We could enjoy the journey home – unlike the one from Gloucestershire.”