Defeat by Hunslet Hawks leaves York City Knights on the brink in Kingstone Press Championship (From York Press)
Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Defeat by Hunslet Hawks leaves York City Knights on the brink in Kingstone Press Championship
York City Knights 30, Hunslet Hawks 33
IT’S not over yet for York City Knights, but judgement day is looming ominously.
Yesterday’s 33-30 defeat to relegation rivals Hunslet – in which the Knights conspired to gift their arch-foes 28 of their points – has left Gary Thornton’s men needing not quite a miracle of Lazarus proportions but certainly one whereby they walk on water rather than drown in it.
Four points adrift of safety in the Championship, with only nine to play for: it doesn’t look promising, especially when considering the next six are on the road, where the Knights have not won in the league since June 2011.
Miracles only happy if people believe, however, and right now belief is lacking in Thornton’s ranks, after eight defeats on the trot.
It is not inconceivable they can find some before going to Workington on Thursday, but what they must first do is heal all the bullet holes in their feet, such was their knack of shooting themselves in the metatarsals yesterday.
This losing run has been peppered with mistakes straight after tries, with which the Knights immediately concede momentum, and that was very much the case yesterday. This time, though, they made mistakes after opposition tries, too, amid 26 mad minutes which gave the game to the Hawks.
Ironically, they did do one thing Thornton has been asking for – to get more than one score ahead, to give themselves breathing space.
However, both tries in going 12-0 up were followed by gaffes that gave away cheap possession and, once Hunslet got one try back, followed by Simon Brown booting the restart out on the full to gift the position from where the visitors got their equaliser, things went from bad to worse.
A rally in the last half-hour brought two tries, two more disallowed, and nearly a victory from the jaws of defeat. But this merely added to the frustration: this really was one of those shudda, cudda, wudda games.
Hunslet weren’t that good, barring spark from Danny Grimshaw and know-how from crafty old David March, but it was they who won, York beating only themselves.
Sam Latus – back from injury in place of the unavailable Dougie Flockhart – had opened the scoring after only four minutes courtesy of brother Jack’s sleight of hand, with Tom Carr beginning his run of success with the boot.
Brown then benefited from Hawks generosity to double the lead with his first try for the club. The stand-off, not noted for his speed, twice hacked on a loose ball and gave unconvincing chase. Stuart Kain beat him to the bobbling ball but duly fumbled it, and Brown arrived to touch down.
Sam had been one of four changes to the team beaten by Swinton, with fit-again Kriss Brining, Jack Pickles and, in his second debut for the club, Brooke Broughton, included in place of Jack Iley, Ed Smith and Luke Stenchion. None of the incomers let the side down, but that side continued to let itself down.
Jack Aldous, Brown, Carr, James Ford were among those guilty of errors in hand or with boot. Sam Scott, again a workhouse, and Ryan Mallinder were guilty of high tackles that handed Hunslet more momentum throughout the first half.
From a scrum, Andy Yates got the visitors on the scoreboard, and, after Brown’s wayward restart and a fortuitous repeat set for the Hawks, Grimshaw delayed his pass expertly to send in Lee Mapals. Grimshaw and Mapals were among seven ex-Knights in the Hawks line-up, along with March, Waine Pryce, Tommy Haughey, John Oakes and James Houston, who ironically gave probably his best-ever performance at Huntington Stadium.
After a penalty, Thomas Coyle sped through terrible tackling, March adding his third goal before crossing himself from close-range after Coyle’s 40-20. York had needed to break the sequence but Scott had knocked on near the try-line prior to the 40-20.
Luke Haigh’s poor pass after replacing March at hooker finally broke the sequence of home errors, and Ben Johnston smartly sent in George Elliott, not unlike Grimshaw had set up Mapals.
However, York mistakes continued, with Oakes and Liam Welham adding to the visitors’ lead with tries either side of half-time, the former too big these days even for Scott, spinning away in the tackle. Grimshaw created Welham’s try, which Kain converted.
Superb work by Brining on 53 minutes, ending in an offload that sent Jack Lee scurrying, should have brought York back into the game but his scoring pass to skipper Ford was deemed forward.
Coyle then eked up Hunslet’s lead to 33-18 with a drop goal, but York got the next try.
The reintroduction of Matty Nicholson brought its reward via two great offloads, the first helping them up the field and the second sending in Johnston.
There were 14 minutes left and nine points in it, and York were now out of their mistake-ridden malais.
However, Elliott had a try ruled out when crashing into the flag in touching down, and Scott was twice held short on a power play.
Johnston’s second try, after a neat interchange with Mallinder, set up a grandstand finish with three minutes left, but Hunslet held on, running – or rather walking – the clock down with go-slow rugby before finding energy again on the hooter to celebrate a win which gives their own hopes of beating the drop a lifeline.
Knights: Carr 6, Elliott 6, Ford 6, J Latus 7, S Latus 7, Brown 6, Johnston 6, Aldous 6, Lee 6, Nicholson 8, Scott 8, Mallinder 6, Pickets 6. Subs (all used): Brining 6, Pickles 6, Freer 6, Broughton 6.
Tries: S Latus 4; Brown 14; Elliott 37; Johnston 66, 77.
Conversions: Carr 4, 14, 37, 66, 77.
Hunslet: Kain, Pryce, Brickwood, Welham, Mapals, T Coyle, J Coyle, Yates, March, Houston, Haughey, Oakes, Grimshaw. Subs (all used): Haigh, Watson, Menzies, Haley.
Tries: Yates 19; Mapals 23; T Coyle 28; March 33; Oakes 40; Welham 45.
Conversions: March 19, 23, 28; Kain 45.
Drop goal: T Coyle 60.
Man of the match: Sam Scott – took the fight to Hunslet throughout, leaving Hunslet boss Barry Eaton admitting the second-row had battered his Hawks team down their right.
Referee: Gareth Hewer (Whitehaven) – pretty good, though York will bemoan their two disallowed tries.
Weather: sunny but rather windy.
Moment of the match: Kriss Brining’s super surge and offload, Jack Lee’s support play, and James Ford’s flying finish on the 53rd-minute mark would have been one of the tries of the season – at a crucial time too. Let’s just pretend for a moment that it wasn’t disallowed.
Gaffe of the match: it’s been a feature of York’s losing run and once again they continued to make basic mistakes straight after scoring points, while the “defending” that ushered Thomas Coyle home for Hunslet’s fourth try was embarrassing.
Gamebreaker: a George Elliott try with 11 minutes left, the winger crashing into the corner flag as he touched down, would have left York really sensing a comeback victory, just one score behind with the wind in their sails. But a touch judge ruled it out, so the next try was mere consolation rather than the winner. If only there were TV cameras to show if the linesman was right.
Match rating: had York played well, they would have won. The word ‘frustrating’ does not do it justice.
Comments are closed on this article.