YORK City Knights got their first win of pre-season yesterday as they came from 14-12 down at half-time to beat Championship One rivals Gateshead 30-20 at Huntington Stadium – though the game was marred by a bizarre injury to Ben Dent.
The winger chased a kick to the corner in the opening moments of the match, skidded out of the in-goal area and collided with a steeplechase hurdle which had been left around the perimeter of the pitch.
After lengthy treatment, he was stretchered off and went straight to hospital, though fears of a bad leg break were dispelled by X-rays. Instead he needed 11 stitches to close an open gash, and will be out of action for two to three weeks.
Knights head coach Gary Thornton was thankful Dent’s injury was not as bad as first feared, but demanded improvements in health and safety issues at Huntington Stadium. The ground is also used for athletics, and players have previously suffered injury due to divets in the pitch left by shot puts.
“It’s obviously a concern. We’ve got a player badly injured and it didn’t look good,” said Thornton.
“I can’t comment really – I didn’t see it too clearly – but there were some pretty gruesome stories from the lads that saw it.
“For health and safety, someone will have to look at it. I will leave it to the powers that be, but you want an environment where it’s safe to play and that was not the case (yesterday). It’s very disappointing that that’s happened.”
As for the match itself, which saw tries by Greg Minikin, Lee Paterson, on his return to the Knights, Jake Joynt, Curtis Macdonald - both their first for the team - and Jack Lee, Thornton said: “To get a win was good, and there was a lot of good stuff out there. We’ve still got a lot of work to do but, for where we are in pre-season, I was reasonably happy.
“Lee Paterson was excellent, Ryan Mallinder I thought was superb, young Harry Carter did well when he came on. There were a lot of young boys out there – the likes of James Morland, Luke Tomlinson, Scott Talbot – and I was pleased with the way they came in. We had a lot of first-team squad players sat watching, and it gives us some food for thought.”
Asked what the difference was between the first and second halves, Thornton said: “We played with a bit more tempo. We started really well for the first ten minutes but then stepped off a bit. We made some changes – the likes of Lee Paterson and Jack Aldous came off – and we lost it a bit.
“It’s tough in these games when you make a lot of changes as you lose momentum and a bit of shape. We got a bit disjointed in the second quarter.
“We asked them at half-time to play with more tempo and that’s what we did. Things went up a gear and that’s when we got back on track.”