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Harsh Fax of life for York City Knights after 44-12 defeat
INJURY-HIT York City Knights again showed they can compete with leading teams in the Championship for half a game, but the lack of strength in depth was again evident as they were ultimately overpowered once more.
Halifax, like title rivals Featherstone last week, did not display the greatest intensity throughout, but, like Fev, they were given a few frights by a young York side before going clear on the scoreboard, to win 44-12.
Not a week goes by without the Knights suffering more injury woe and the recipients this time were Jack Lee and Tom Bush, who departed either side of half-time, leaving the visitors again short on rotation options.
Until that point, Bush, player-boss Chris Thorman, and consistent packmen Adam Sullivan, who is also carrying a knee problem, John Davies and Jack Aldous all stood out in a competitive first half, the Knights being unfortunate to be behind at the break. But the second period became pretty scrappy and the inexperienced Knights were given a few more lessons in first-grade rugby.
Thorman had been forced into two changes from last week – with rookies being replaced by even rookier rookies.
Tim Stubbs, who debuted against Featherstone, was replaced on the bench by fellow 17-year-old prop Ellis – who also replaced the York Acorn ARLC kid as the Knights’ youngest-ever player. He too let no one down in his 28-minute second-half stint.
Another teenage starlet, Tyler Craig came in for his first Championship start in place of crocked Rhys Clarke – becoming Thorman’s ninth half-back partner this term. Heworth ARLC product Craig, more a loose-forward than a scrum-half, was unafraid to take on the challenge, albeit with some wayward passes.
There were three other novices in Ben Dent, Kris Brining and Gareth Poutney. Halifax boss Karl Harrison, on the other hand, could rest star hooker Sean Penkywicz ahead of their play-off push, and be without injured former Knights winger Wayne Reittie and York-born forward Ross Divorty, but still have plenty of class in reserve.
Indeed, it was Ben Heaton, in Reittie’s stead on the wing, who opened the scoring, referee Clint Sharrad having ignored claims for a forward pass and, moments earlier, for ball-stealing in the tackle that had caused the usually reliable Aldous to lose possession.
The Knights hit back, though, with Craig at the heart of it.
Nathan Freer’s offload created space exploited by Jack Lee. He fed Tyler Craig who passed out of the tackle – with more than a hint of forwardness here too – for George Elliott to dummy in. Thorman goaled, and the organiser-in-chief’s class then shone through as the visitors not only enjoyed a good spell but shocked the home crowd further.
His wonderfully disguised pass saw Sullivan cap his great opening stint with a superb break, which ended with a try for the supporting Bush. Thorman goaled.
Sullivan’s departure to the bench coincided with a breakaway response from Fax, Rob Worrincy excelling before Sam Barlow left Freer and Dario Esposito grounded as he bulldozed in.
The strength of the Knights’ bench was always going to be a worry, and concerns grew as Poutney – the reserve centre who debuted as sub last week – fumbled the ball with his first touch close to his line.
Fax responded with an error too, but they took the lead when Handforth weaved past Freer. The Knights, though, should have been back ahead again by half-time – only for Sharrad to intervene. Thorman was again the architect, a brilliant delayed pass seeing Bush burst through to put Poutney in. However, Sharrad deemed Davies, running alongside Bush on Thorman’s shoulder, had obstructed a defender – when it seemed from the stands that the Fax man had simply misread and overshot the play.
A minute later, home full-back Paul White touched down a kick at the other end.
White breezed in again after the break after Barlow had punched the hole, but the Knights continued to make a game of it before the contest as a whole got scruffy.
White had a hat-trick try harshly ruled out for a forward pass, but Worrincy had one allowed, former Knights half-back Anthony Thackeray the creator. Oh how York would’ve loved to keep Thackeray.
Anthony Bowman also twisted in and the speedy Worrincy completed the scoring with a long-ranger after fielding a Thorman kick.
In addition to blooding youngsters, a second-half positive for York was Esposito’s show – three huge collisions with Fax prop Tony Tonks, plus a couple more good shots, giving further evidence, after his decent display last week, that the Aussie forward is settling in England.
Halifax: White, Worrincy, Bowman, Haley, Heaton, Handforth, Thackeray, Tonks, Ashall, Hesketh, Manning, Casey, Ambler. Subs used: Paterson, Gannon, Barlow, Aizue.
Tries: Heaton 4; Barlow 25; Handforth 34; White 40, 44; Bowman 70; Worrincy 64, 73.
Conversions: Handforth 25, 34, 40, 44, 70, 73.
Drop goals: None.
Knights: Bush 7, Pryce 6, Elliott 7, Garside 7, B Dent 6, Thorman 8, Craig 6, Sullivan 8, Lee 7, Aldous 7, Esposito 8, Davies 7, Freer 7. Subs (all used): Brining 6, Sutton 6, Poutney 6, Ellis 6.
Tries: Elliott 8; Bush 19.
Conversions: Thorman 8, 19.
Drop goals: None.
Man of the match: Adam Sullivan – there were several decent performers, in the first half in particular, and ‘Mr Consistent’ was arguably the pick, especially when considering he is carrying a knee injury. Referee: Clint Sharrad (Manchester) – very questionable decision to rule out Gareth Poutney’s try at the end of the first half.
Penalty count: 5-3.
Weather: pleasant before a second-half shower.
Moment of the match: York’s second try, created by Chris Thorman’s disguised pass and Adam Sullivan superb run, and finished by Tom Bush.
Gaffe of the match: either sub Gareth Poutney fumbling the ball near his own line with his first touch, or referee Sharrad’s decision to rule out Poutney’s try.
Gamebreaker: Fax’s try just before half-time, a minute after York had had one disallowed, knocked stuffing out of the plucky much-depleted visitors.
Match rating: a one-sided game was anticipated but York’s young guns made it competitive for the most part.