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Match report: York City Knights 24, Dewsbury Rams 32
Man of the match Tom Bush storms forward for York City Knights in their Co-operative Championship clash with Dewsbury Rams at Huntington Stadium last night. Picture: Gordon Clayton
Instead it was old boy Ryan Esders who came back to haunt his former club with two tries, the second of which came on the final hooter to seal a 32-24 win for Dewsbury.
The game sparked into life in the second half and swung one way then another, with a three-try burst in six minutes putting York into the ascendancy having trailed 10-0 at the break.
But they could not keep control of proceedings and the Rams, who had begun the game one place but ten points ahead of second-bottom York in the table, came out on top to cast player-coach Chris Thorman’s men further adrift.
The Knights at least got a bonus point and another positive was that the match brought an early debut for new signing Dario Esposito, little more than 48 hours after he landed in York from Australia.
The Kiwi forward entered the fray after 23 minutes, immediately after York had fallen 10-0 down, and he looked a decent addition in his 20-minute stint, especially when considering jet-lag, albeit without standout moments. He had to go off, however, after a “stinger” on a shoulder – hoped to be not serious.
Esposito was one of six positional or personnel changes from the team that faded away in last Friday night’s loss at Sheffield.
We reported yesterday the Knights would have to make two enforced changes, with scrum-half Danny Nicklas recalled by parent club Hull and second-row Ed Smith suffering injury in Thursday night’s reserves defeat. It had been kept secret, however, that full-back Jordan Tansey would also be sidelined due to a knee problem.
Tom Bush was his obvious replacement in the number one shirt – and how he enjoyed himself back in his favourite position. Bush, along with wingers George Elliott and Waine Pryce, dealt competently with high kicks into a swirling wind, and he scored a scintillating 80-metre try early in the second half.
As predicted, Brett Turner moved to half-back, with teenager Kris Brining coming onto the bench as replacement hooker.
Elsewhere, big Chris Green moved to second-row, with Rhys Clarke starting on the bench 24 hours after running out for the reserves.
Clarke had been “dropped” due to a below-par show at Sheffield, especially in the defensive department. He wasn’t the only culprit last week, though, and one-on-one misses were again a problem in the first half last night, not least when Esders put the Rams ahead.
Esders, one of four former Knights in the visitors’ line-up, made two handling errors in the first seven minutes. But he opened the scoring after a nip-and-took first quarter, somehow getting through on 18 minutes when it seemed he had nowhere to go. Pat Walker added his first of four conversions.
The Rams also began to get the offloads out of tackles and it paid off as James Craven scored.
The Knights went closest through James Ford, who was denied aside the flag, and John Davies, from his own close-range grubber. Davies, Ford and winger George Elliott, down York’s left, were the hosts’ biggest threat throughout.
The match’s first turning point came early in the second half.
Esposito put a big shot on Josh Tonks but in the next tackle he and Matt Garside were split by ex-Knight Rob Spicer. The second-row should have sent Ayden Faal streaking home but tried the dummy, and Bush not only read it but put in a thumping tackle.
Not long later, on 43 minutes, Bush scored his superb try, splitting the defence 20 metres from his own line and having the pace to out-run the cover. Two minutes later, York’s left-side attack reaped rewards as Davies ran home. Then Thorman dummied and dived to touch down, and his three conversions put his side 18-10 ahead.
Dewsbury were not dead, though, and soon came the second turning point, as Scott Spaven scored down the right after the defence had been overworked on the left.
That right-side defence of York’s, like at Sheffield, looked troubled, and it was again breached as Craven sprinted in for a 22-18 away lead, Turner left in no-man’s land.
There were still 20 minutes left, during which York were generally the better team, but, after fits and starts and periods of hot-potato rugby from the hosts, it was Dewsbury who got the killer try.
Again it was York’s right-side defence that was worried, with Faal exposing the frailties in little hooker-turned scrum-half Turner’s defence.
Good work by Thorman provided a second try for Davies, Thorman goaling, but, in the final two frantic minutes, a winner was not forthcoming and instead Esders, who had scored the game’s first touchdown, bagged the last on the hooter.
Knights: Bush 8, Pryce 7, Ford 8, Garside 6, Elliott 7, Thorman 7, Turner 5, Sullivan 7, Lee 6, Aldous 7, Davies 8, Green 6, King 6. Subs (used): Clarke 6, Freer 6, Esposito 6. Sub not used: Brining.
Tries: Bush 43; Davies 45, 78; Thorman 49.
Conversions: Thorman 43, 45, 49, 78.
Sent off: None.
Dewsbury: Craven, Williams, Esders, Faal, Buchanan, Walker, Spaven, Jones, Hood, Crossley, Tonks, Spicer, Singleton. Subs (used): Cosgrove, Harris, Flanagan. Sub not used: Scott.
Tries: Esders 18, 80; Craven 23; Spaven 54; Craven 59; Faal 77.
Conversions: Walker 18, 54, 59, 80.
Sent off: None.
Man of the match: Tom Bush – back at full-back and straight back to good form, with fine cover, excellent work under high balls, and a tremendous solo try.
Referee: Chris Leatherbarrow (St Helens) – failed to clamp down on Dewsbury off-sides.
Weather: pleasant but overcast and breezy.
Moment of the match: Tom Bush’s scintillating 80-metre effort early in the second half.
Gaffe of the match: York, trailing 22-18 with 11 minutes left, were pressing the Rams’ line only for an ill-advised pass from Paul King, just when they needed to build pressure, went straight to opponent Austin Buchanan.
Gamebreaker: Ryan Esders, back at his old stomping ground, scored the game’s first and the last tries, the latter sealing victory in a frantic finale.
Match rating: after a quiet first half, the game erupted into life in a thrills and spills second.