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Hammer blow for York City Knights boss Gary Thornton with Hunslet Hawks defeat
GARY THORNTON bemoaned his York City Knights team’s penchant for shooting themselves in the foot after they allowed arch-rivals Hunslet to hammer a nail into their relegation coffin.
The Knights fell four points from safety after losing a second successive six-pointer – six tries in 26 mad minutes sending Hunslet on their way to a 33-30 victory at Huntington Stadium.
Thornton’s men had gone 12-0 up and were also the better team in the last half-hour, but the middle part of the game belonged to the Hawks, assisted by home mistakes that piggy-backed them up the pitch.
“We only played for 20 minutes in the first half. We got a 12-point lead but then fell asleep. All we could do in the second half was have a dig, have a go, but it wasn’t enough,” said Thornton.
“It was incredibly frustrating. Talk about shooting yourselves in the foot. We could not have given Hunslet a bigger lift if we had tried.
“Things like giving penalties away on tackle five. It’s soul-destroying, it marches the opposition up the field, and it’s everything against what we plan to do.”
He added: “Hunslet handled the conditions better. In the first half the wind was in our faces but it’s not the wind that drops off tackles and misses tackles. We dropped off an awful lot, and Hunslet got up the field not too much through their effort but through our mistakes.”
The last 27 minutes saw York score two tries and have two more ruled out by referee Gareth Hewer, Hunslet deperately hanging on for victory.
“When we made that break at the death, I’m not sure what he (Jack Lee) was doing, trying to kick it. If he had passed it, we could’ve scored. We took some poor options again.
“I thought right at the death we might have sneaked it, but to be fair that might have been harsh on Hunslet.”
As for the disallowed tries – James Ford’s effort was ruled out for a forward pass and George Elliott’s for crashing into touch in the corner – Thornton said: “The referee gives what he sees. I can’t really comment.
“I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the first one. For the second, the referee was ready to give it but the touch judge says no. A winger there with that chance – you have to go low and hard and commit yourself to the try.
“I’ve no arguments on the whole (about the officiating). The referee didn’t have a particularly bad game.”
York, now cut adrift at the bottom having eyed the play-offs prior to their current eight-match losing streak, still have a game in hand on the teams above them, so their fate is not yet sealed.
Asked how he will lift his charges for Thursday night’s match at Workington, where victory – a first league win on the road for 26 months – is now even more vital, Thornton said: “It’s a tough question.
“I won’t be throwing the towel in. We’ve got to fight to the end.
“We’ve got to go and give it a shot. We’ve got to regroup, stay strong. It’s not over until it’s over.
“The players are very down. They know they let themselves down. It was a massive game and we didn’t handle the pressure particularly well. Hunslet probably did – their experienced players like David March and James Houston got them around well.
“We’ve got three games left and three wins are possible. We’ve got to give it a go.
“The pressure is growing more and more. They are a young group of players but I’ve said to them they need to mature quickly. The way we fell apart in the first half – maybe it was a lack of confidence but why lack confidence when you take a 12-point lead?
“We need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and get on with it.”
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