Match report: Knights 76, South Wales Scorpions 0

James Haynes crosses the whitewash with Scorpions scattered in his wake

Benn Hardcastle goes over for a try against South Wales Scorpions

York City Knights youngster Harry Carter leaves the South Wales Scorpions defence trailing as he runs in a try

First published in Sport
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FORMER York City Knights boss Dave Woods made a point of order last week after he had watched his Championship side, Whitehaven, get turned over at Huntington Stadium in the Challenge Cup.

"York are good enough to compete in the Championship," he'd said, notwithstanding their relegation to Championship One last year.

Now, that might not be quite the same as saying "York are far too good for Championship One", but, on yesterday's showing, that may well be the case for many of the teams in this expansion tier.

Gary Thornton's rampant men were certainly far too good for poor South Wales Scorpions, racking up a club record league win with a 76-0 rout - despite periods of scratchiness and indifferent ball retention when it became clear it mattered little if they coughed up possession.

They notched 14 tries, seven in each half, with scrum-half Jonny Presley leading the way with a fab four before declaring - perhaps forgetfully or perhaps very specifically - that he'd never previously scored that many in a match.

He had, of course, bagged a Knights record six in the 2012 Challenge Cup romp against a Northumbria University side who really should not have been in that competition.

South Wales were not as limited as those students and, with a largely new developing team attempting to grow rugby league in that part of the world, they do deserve to be in this particular competition - especially given it was initially set up as a platform for expansion clubs to dip feet into the pro arena.

However, they didn't give this particular Knights team - currently flourishing and full of confidence - much of a test.

Then again, in this form, few in this tier will.

Indeed, the Challenge Cup tie away to Swinton in two weeks' time may yet give further credence to Woods' assertion that this outfit are a match for many in the higher tier.

Don't forget they'd beaten Hunslet and Whitehaven in the previous weeks - two teams with long histories, who had gone into those games as favourites.

So don't let the Scorpions' inadequacies, in defence and attack, take anything away from Thornton's men, several of whom, like teenagers Harry Carter and James Morland and former amateur Ryan Mallinder, are likewise dipping their feet in the pro pool.

The Knights again scored some scintillating tries and, on the occasions they gifted the visitors position, their defence was easily up to the mark, albeit aided by several poor ends to sets from the young Welshmen.

They also began this game well, unlike against Haven when they fell 16-0 down. This time, they were 22-0 up inside 15 minutes.

Stand-off Benn Hardcastle, back in the side as one of a few changes to the team that shocked the Cumbrians, dummied one way and darted the other to open the scoring and, although he missed this conversion, he ended the day with 10.

In the next set, smart handling down the left ended with Ben Dent scoring with what is becoming a trademark finish down the sideline.

Soon enough Presley got his first, after smart work by Lee Paterson and Jack Aldous, before an excellent offload by Ed Smith to Paterson saw Aldous finish.

A 15-minute lull, with York slipping into neutral, ended as they bagged three tries in the last 10 minutes of the half.

James Haynes picked up a loose offload and showed strength and a super swaying sidestep to beat the odds and get through, and Ed Smith was on hand to touch down after George Elliott somehow got the ball out when seemingly wrapped up at the try-line.

Young sub hooker Carter then sped home from 60 metres after crowd favourite Iain Morrison battered through the line.

There was no respite early in the second half as Hardcastle’s pass sent Smith through to give Presley his second try.

Elliott scored thanks to young centre Morland’s quick hands, before Presley completed his hat-trick with a superb solo try from a scrum on half-way.

Then came the try of the match.

The visitors sent up a high attacking high, but Haynes leapt like a high jumper, came down with the ball and beat a man in the same movement before handing on to James Ford.

The 31-year-old player/assistant-coach, on his 2014 bow after injury, then showed a sidestep and pace of old to round his man and out-sprint the cover. Maybe the centre isn't ready to give young apprentice Greg Minikin his mantle just yet.

Second-row Ryan Mallinder then stretched over, with Ford collecting the restart and smartly releasing Presley to scamper home for a fourth time and cap his sponsors' man-of-the-match acolade.

Presley's tally of 16 points, when added to Hardcastle's 24, meant the two half-backs totalled 40 between them - just when it seemed that Pat Smith, rested this week, was emerging as the first-choice half-back.

Castleford dual-reg full-back Ben Reynolds may also wonder if he will get back in the team. The youngster has done everything right in his time at Huntington Stadium - but can Thornton now leave out Haynes?

The number one - further suggesting his injury woes are now long gone - completed his excellent display by blasting through for a superb second try.


Match facts

York: Haynes 9, G Elliott 7, Ford 8, Morland 7, B Dent 7, B Hardcastle 7, Presley 8, Bell 8, Lee 7, Aldous 7, Mallinder 7, E Smith 8, Paterson 7. Subs (all used): Golden 7, Morrison 8, Carter 7, Freer 7.

Tries: B Hardcastle 5; B Dent 9; Presley 12, 43, 61, 74; Aldous 15; Haynes 30, 79; E Smith 35; Carter 37; Elliott 54; Ford 66; Mallinder 72.

Conversions: B Hardcastle 9, 12, 15, 30, 35, 37, 43, 61, 66, 79.

Penalties: none.

Sent off: none.

Sin-binned: none.

South Wales: Sheridan, Leyshon, Hellard, Pring, Scrivens, Emanuelli, Bateman, B Phillips, Farrer, Fitzgerald, Carleton, Connor, Vitalini. Subs (all used): Pope, Elliott, Wilcox, O Phillips.

Tries: none.

Conversions: none.

Penalties: none.

Sent off: none.

Sin-binned: none.

Man of the match: James Haynes – he could have taken things easily at full-back given his side were so on top, but he showed much of his punch and panache of old, not least with his two tries and when superbly taking a high kick in mid-air, beating a man and giving James Ford the chance to show his old sidestep and pace to likewise end the day on the scoresheet.

Referee: Andy Sweet (Castleford) – good.

Penalties: 10-4.

Half-time: 40-0.

Attendance: 638.

Weather: first-half showers and second-half sunshine.

Moment of the match: it was great to see James Haynes, after all his injury trouble in the last few years, get back on the scoresheet, and with two tries which showcased both strength and a sidestep.

Gaffe of the match: it was going to be George Elliott’s decision to try his luck from dummy-half close to the try-line on the last tackle only to be wrapped up... But then he somehow got the ball out for Ed Smith to touch down.

Gamebreaker: it was 22-0 after the first 15 minutes and, unlike last week, when York came from 16-0 down to beat Whitehaven in the Challenge Cup, there was never any danger of a fight-back this time from a poor South Wales side.

Match rating: a rampant, confident York made it too one-sided - without really needing to be at their best.

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