GARY THORNTON hailed the arrival of Brad Day after the newcomer from Castleford came off the bench and scored twice on debut to help injury-hit York City Knights to a 30-20 win at London Skolars.
Day’s second try made it 30-0 soon after half-time and, although the Knights took their foot off the pedal, the three points earned took them clear at the top of the Championship One table with second-placed Oldham not in action.
The 19-year-old back-rower has joined on dual-registration having remained on the fringes of Cas’s first team. He needs to play six times to be eligible for the promotion play-offs and head coach Thornton confirmed that was in his thinking with six games of the regular season to go.
His arrival and continued availability could prove even more significant given the Knights picked up more new injuries - finishing yesterday’s game with only 11 fully fit players - while prop Brad Brennan is facing a ban.
Said Thornton: “Brad had to play in the centre due to Greg Minikin’s shoulder injury. It’s an unfamiliar position but I thought he was excellent.
“He ran really strongly and defended well. I was delighted for him. To get a couple of tries on debut is always pleasing.”
Kriss Brining limped through to the end of the game after suffering a leg injury, as Minikin, Ryan Backhouse (back), Colton Roche (knee) and Joe Pickets (head) were already sidelined. Jack Lee’s knee problem continued to trouble him, too, the captain having been a major doubt before the game but putting his hand up to play.
It meant getting through the game with a result was more important that the manner of performance.
Added Thornton: “I’m pleased with the three points. That’s what we came down for. It was not the best performance. We were a bit stretched at times.
“Fair play to the Skolars – they showed lots of enthusiasm and caused us some problems. Lamont Bryan was a thorn in our side and Mike Bishay has played Super League. They kept going at us.
“I’m a bit disappointed with the margin of the score. At half-time we looked comfortable and we should have taken the score further away from them but they got a leg up and got a grip on the game.
“At the end of the day we got the points but there’s improvement in us.
“For 50 minutes we looked in control. We have to be a bit more professional. At 30-0 you can take your foot off the gas but that’s not what we should be about. I want us to strangle teams and not let them back in. Once they got that score they were lifted. Complacency sometimes sets in, things go against you and it gives teams some fuel.
“Fair play to London, they gave us a good game but at 30-0 would should be smart enough to take the game away from them.”
Meanwhile, Thornton has had a change of heart over Brennan’s upcoming disciplinary hearing and the player is now set to enter an early guilty plea.
As reported by The Press, Thornton was confident the in-form on-loan prop would be found innocent of a dangerous throw in last week's win at Hemel should he contest the charge at Tuesday's hearing.
However, with the danger of a three-game ban if found guilty instead of two games if admitting the charge, Thornton says the club are now set to accept the lower punishment.
They are hoping fellow props Austin Bell and Iain Morrison will be fit again for next week's trip to Oxford.
Said Thornton: "After looking at it and talking with Brad, we will probably take the early guilty plea. We don't want to risk two games turning into three.
"Colton Roche is back and we're hoping Austin Bell will be back next week and possibly Iain Morrison as well and, if so, losing Brad for a couple of games won't be as big a blow for us."