GARY THORNTON said he was delighted with York City Knights’ under-20s despite their defeat to Championship big guns Halifax.

The visitors won Thursday night’s U20s friendly 20-10 in the Huntington Stadium rain, thanks to two tries in the last six minutes.

Up until then, York’s young guns had held their own against a side featuring Fax first-team stars Rob Worrincy, Ben Davies – the former Super League prop – and Adam Robinson.

The Knights themselves fielded a few over-age players but even they were all under 23 and, barring fit-again 21-year-old Ed Smith, had limited first-team experience.

Said head coach Thornton: “We conceded a couple of poor tries from kicks but otherwise I was really pleased. We had a very young side out but competed really well.

“They played Ben Davies up the middle, who’s played Super League for Wigan, Widnes and Castleford, and they had Adam Robinson in there too. I was really pleased with (forwards) Jack Pickles, Sam Orange and Ed Smith, especially considering Sam and Ed are coming back from injury.”

Knights U20s boss Mick Ramsden had to make a late adjustment as second-row Tyler Craig withdrew with a groin strain, with outside-back Josh Nathaniel starting in the pack. It meant Pickles, who is also in the squad for tomorrow’s first-team friendly, had to play more minutes up front than was planned.

Said Thornton: “We had Sam and Jack in the front row along with Tim Stubbs on the bench, who’s still only 18. They had some established first-teamers in there and that’s perhaps where some damage was done, but, that said, we handled ourselves really well.

“We showed some good stuff in difficult conditions.”

Winger Curtis Macdonald put York ahead with a converted try in the corner but his fumble from a grubber kick allowed Ben Barron to equalise.

Halifax scrum-half Brad Delaney then broke clear to put the visitors in front at the interval but York levelled when winger Worrincy fumbled the ball and Smith touched it down. Worrincy soon went off with a bad thigh injury.

Fax had brought a squad of 22 while York had gone with a straight 17, and the hosts possibly tired at the end.

Jarrod Ward, on trial from Bradford, put Fax ahead with six minutes left, Keith Holden adding his second conversion, and Louis Senter sealed victory when dropping on a loose ball after home full-back Scott Talbot had spilt a kick.