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York City Knights 16, Batley Bulldogs 30
York City Knights forward John Davies shrugs off a Batley Bulldogs tackler on his way to scoring a try in yesterday’s 30-16 Co-operative Championship defeat at Huntington Stadium
JAMES FORD labelled his own performance as a “disgrace” via Twitter last night, after York City Knights made it five Championship games without a win, with only one bonus point banked.
The captain shouldn’t be too harsh on himself as he is yet to let anyone down unduly – though here’s hoping those who do under-perform are as quick to acknowledge the fact and indeed show a desire to make up for it. And it’s fair to say the Knights have had their unfair share of under-performers so far this season.
It’s rare, mind, that a referee would publicly acknowledge a gaffe, even one that plays a major role in proceedings – like in the Knights’ 30-16 loss to Batley yesterday.
Jamie Leahy, generally one of the better referees in the Championship, and his two touch judges, unlike most other people inside Huntington Stadium, failed to spot a knock-down by Batley half-back Ben Black as he tried to intercept a pass by Jordan Tansey.
Bulldogs winger Gareth Potts duly picked up the loose ball and sprinted 80 metres to the other end, with Leahy, to the amazement of all and anger of many, awarding the try.
This turned what could have been an equaliser for the hosts into a third score – and 18-6 half-time lead – for the visitors.
The last thing the struggling Knights needed was a bad call to cost them, but this could well have been a big turning point in a game in which York were scrapping away albeit while continuing to waste good work with cheap turnover.
Ford may well have contributed to it, too, if only with another act of raw honesty. The centre, rather than stick his hand up and claim the knock-on, had chased Potts all the way down the pitch – which may have suggested to Leahy that all was good.
As errors go, that’s pretty forgiveable. His bigger mistake had come midway through the half when he was badly caught out for Batley’s second try, Black’s pass leaving him clutching at straws and giving Jason Walton an easy run-in.
But if Ford was guilty of an error, then few in York’s team were not.
Indeed, reigning Player of the Year Nathan Freer twice lost cheap ball in a very indifferent personal display, the first being costly as it set up field position for Alex Bretherton’s opening try on eight minutes.
Paul King marked his return from injury with a crunching tackle on Johnny Walker that saw the Batley second-row treated in hospital for concussion. But he, too, was guilty of one fumble.
John Davies, who had gone straight into the side on his return to the club on dual-reg from Castleford 48 hours earlier, was guilty of three, marring an otherwise eye-catching display that earned him the sponsors’ man-of-the-match award.
Matt Garside, Tom Bush, Rhys Clarke, Brett Turner (fit-again and back in a conventional half-back partnership with player-boss Chris Thorman) – all were guilty of individual errors.
Tansey also failed to deliver again – including with the pass that was knocked down by Black. If it had been sharper, the match could have gone a different way.
On their own, such errors are not too bad, but when added up, the accumulated cost is high.
In between times, on the back of the hosts’ first penalty, York substitute James Houston – on for Ed Smith, who had returned from a knee injury but departed with an ankle problem – had scored with his first touch when taking Thorman’s short pass, Thorman’s conversion making it 12-6.
But this, again, was a rare highlight for Knights fans.
Houston later had another probable try ruled out, controversially, for a forward pass.
The officials first came to the fore when ex-Knight Mark Applegarth, impressing at loose-forward for Batley, flew home only for the try to be ruled out for a knock-on at the previous play-the-ball, spotted by a touch judge.
The next big refereeing decision – the Potts try – went their way, though, and, although York had the benefit of any refereeing doubt in the third quarter, they could not take advantage on the scoreboard.
The game got increasingly scrappy, literally so as Garside shared blows with ex-Knights half-back Gareth Moore, with both yellow carded.
Before they returned, Bretherton joined them in the sin-bin, presumably for mouthing-off as the Bulldogs were pinged for reefing, and Davies marked his third Knights debut – he played on dual-reg in 2010 and 2011 – by darting home, ignoring an overlap to score.
Most of the second half had been played at Batley’s end, but the visitors scored as soon as they were back up to full strength, Moore having time aplenty to touch down Black’s grubber after 68 minutes to add to his five goals.
Jack Lee likewise touched down Thorman’s grubber at the other end, but a touch judge flagged for offside to curtail hopes of a comeback, and it was game completely over when Bretherton caught and touched down Moore’s chip.
King smartly scored from short-range at the other end, Thorman goaling, but for the second league match on the trot, the Knights missed out on a bonus point by two points.
Knights: Tansey 5, Bush 6, Ford 6, Garside 6, Elliott 6, Thorman 6, Turner 6, Sullivan 7, Lee 6, Freer 5, Davies 6, E Smith 6, King 7.
Subs (all used): Aldous 7, Clarke 6, Hemmings 7, Houston 7.
Tries: Houston 29; Davies 58; King 77.
Conversions: Thorman 29, 77.
Sin-binned: Garside 48.
Batley: Campbell, Potts, Walton, Williams, Brown, Black, Moore, B Smith, Mennell, Walmsley, Bretherton, Walker, Applegarth.
Subs (all used): Palfrey, Hirst, Menzies, Lythe.
Tries: Bretherton 8, 75; Walton 21; Potts 38; Moore 68.
Conversions: Moore 8, 21, 38, 68, 75.
Sin-binned: Moore 48; Bretherton 57.
Man of the match: James Houston – the forward probably had his most solid game for the Knights, after coming off the bench and scoring with his first touch.
Referee: Jamie Leahy (Dewsbury) – increasingly uncertain, not helped by the furore over Gareth Potts’ long-range try just before half-time – he must have figured he’d maybe failed to spot a blatant knock-on.
Moment of the match: the crunching first-half tackle by Paul King that knocked half of Johnny Walker into next week, meaning he lost his legs as he tried to play the ball.
Gaffe of the match: the refereeing blunder that allowed Gareth Potts’ 80-metre try just before half-time to count, Ben Black having knocked forward an attempted intercept and Potts having possibly fumbled, too, when picking up the loose ball. York were again guilty of too many errors, mind.
Match-breaker: if the officials’ decision to allow Potts’ try was key in putting Batley clear, the touch judge’s disallowing Jack Lee’s try for offside, with ten minutes left and the scores at 24-10, prevented any possible home comeback.
Match rating: scrappy.