Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Match report: York City Knights 16, Batley Bulldogs 34
York City Knights’ George Elliott sprints clear for a try in the 47th minute of yesterday’s home Championship defeat by Batley Bulldogs
IT is not often that an end-of-season dead rubber culminates in anger, frustration and a pair of unnecessary red cards.
It all rather summed up the Knights’ season.
It almost goes without saying they again conjured up a winning position only to let triumph be taken away.
And it almost goes without saying they did not have much luck. This time the misfortune came via the man in the middle, who conspired on a quiet day to wind up such fury that he sent two men for early baths and on the final hooter needed to be escorted from the field himself by Huntington Stadium’s head of security.
Super League-bound St Helens referee George Stokes, with his lumbering frame and big white boots, was a noticeable figure in centrefield even before he started dishing out dodgy decisions, ignoring advice from his touch judges, awarding dubious tries and missing the most blatant of knock-ons in perhaps the history of rugby league.
The first quarter of the game had been quiet and the middle part entertaining, but the final quarter descended into a one-sided affair which saw the Bulldogs bag four tries to turn around a 16-12 deficit, all capped by red cards for Joe Pickets and Sam Scott.
The former, back from a one-match ban, allegedly caught Jonny Campbell with a haymaker off the ball after the pair had swapped handbags, to potentially earn another suspension. The incident wasn’t caught on video but was seen by the fourth official. Campbell was certainly left dazed and bloodied.
Within a minute, another dubious decision went against York, leaving Sam Scott – possibly the most frustrated of all Knights performers this year after some heroic efforts in vain – to query Stokes’ officialdom. How dare he? Straight red.
The applause Scott got as he left the field summed up the supporters’ feelings, though, and it was good he got his own send-off given he is unlikely to stay and play in Championship One.
For Batley, their season is not over, with the play-offs to come. For York, the rebuilding begins now, with an immediate promotion from Championship One the aim.
To that end, yesterday’s game showed they could very much do with not only keeping the young guns firing into the new year – Ben Dent again had a cracking game on the wing while Tyler Craig did not look out of place on his call-up from the under-20s – but also with keeping Ben Johnston at his home-town club, if possible. The little scrum-half showed again he has things in his locker that others don’t possess – and he could tear up Championship One, unless parent club Castleford want him progressing at a higher level.
The game also gave more evidence the Knights have long needed more size in the pack, and that their dual-reg relationship with Hull has been somewhat disappointing.
Reminders of both came before kick-off, when stalwart prop Adam Sullivan – who has missed the end of the campaign and is now hanging up his boots – was given a guard of honour by his team-mates who no doubt would have preferred him to beef them up on the pitch, and during the 80 minutes when big Anthony Mullally destroyed them down the middle. Mullally is on dual-reg at Batley from Huddersfield. No one was on dual-reg at York from Hull.
York had created the game’s first chances, Johnston caught by Campbell after a fine George Elliott run, and Elliott had a try ruled out for a forward pass, before they fell behind as Tom Carr dropped a kick, with Mullally scoring following the scrum, and Liam Walmsley powered over Johnston to set up Danny Maun.
York also lost influential hooker Jack Lee to a bad facial wound which needed hospital treatment, meaning Jack Iley, also called up from the U20s, had a bigger role to play than anticipated. However, Johnston’s superb show and go brought York back into it before half-time, Carr converting.
York scored again soon after the resumption when Elliott was the only player to react to a misplaced Ben Black kick, catching it expertly beside the touchline on half-way and sprinting home.
The try of the day followed. Matt Nicholson – who played despite confirmation he is joining Featherstone – offloaded to Johnston, who stepped in off his right foot and sent Jonny Presley, back in the side for Simon Brown, scampering home, Carr goaling.
A sequence of controversial decisions, however, went against York in the final 17 minutes, some of which helped Batley score through Gareth Potts, from a blatant forward pass, Paul Mennell, to cries of “well done, ref”, a rampaging Mullally, and, following an Elliott mistake under a high ball, Miles Greenwood, Stokes giving the try despite a touch judge’s reservations.
Pickets and Scott then saw red, and Tom Hemingway added a penalty to his four conversions.
Knights: Carr 6, Dent 8, Craig 6, J Latus 6, Elliott 7, Johnston 8, Presley 7, Nicholson 7, Lee 6, Aldous 6, Scott 6, E Smith 6, Pickets 6. Subs (all used): Iley 7, Stenchion 6, Freer 6, Broughton 6.
Tries: Johnston 39; Elliott 47; Presley 57.
Conversions: Carr 39, 57.
Sent off: Pickets 77; Scott 78.
Batley: Greenwood, Potts, Faal, Maun, Campbell, Black, Hemingway, B Smith, Mennell, Mullally, Brethertom, L Walmsley, Lindsay. Subs (all used): J Johnson, Leak, Leary, Fairbank.
Tries: Mullally 26, 70; Maun 34; Potts 63; Mennell 67; Greenwood 73.
Conversions: Hemingway 26, 34, 67, 70.
Penalty: Hemingway 78.
Man of the match: Ben Johnston – created a few things and scored a belting solo effort, the kind of which could be commonplace in Championship One next year if York can keep him.
Referee: George Stokes (St Helens) – the fact he needed to be escorted off the field by the head of security at the end of a dead rubber says it all, irritating his detractors by smiling at their catcalls as he walked down the tunnel.
Weather: swirling wind made it parky.
Moment of the match: Ben Johnston’s show and go for a fine solo try just before half-time was topped by the one he and Matt Nicholson set up for Jonny Presley to give York the lead after 57 minutes.
Gaffe of the match: the defending for Anthony Mullally’s second try wasn’t great, even considering the big prop’s power and pace.
Gamebreaker: that Mullally touchdown, his second, made it 28-16 and showed Batley possessed more power heading into the last ten minutes.
Match rating: another defeat but frustration as well as fun and games – better than a humdrum end-of-season affair, right?
Comments are closed on this article.