YORK City Knights don’t want any dual-reg players from Hull any more. They NEED them.
The Knights were taken apart 60-14 yesterday by a Hull outfit which included eight players who will be eligible, via dual-registration or loan agreements, for Gary Thornton’s Championship outfit come their league opener at Whitehaven next Sunday.
And, while Thornton has said he’d only borrow such players if confident they would strengthen his team, on the evidence of yesterday’s final friendly of pre-season he can have few doubts any one of them would indeed do that.
In fact, he’s probably wishing he could field all eight, rather than a maximum of five under the new dual-reg rules.
Perhaps more worryingly for York’s new head coach, though, is how his team would fare without incomers from the KC. And who’s to say who will come in and when?
For example, two-try winger Tom Lineham, whom Knights fans would love to see back at Huntington Stadium for a lengthy period, was withdrawn early, perhaps with Hull’s Super League opener at Leeds on Friday in mind. He really was in a different league to York’s wide men.
Furthermore, full-back Jamie Shaul did his hopes of first-team recognition at Hull no harm with a man-of-the-match display.
Safe under the high ball, devastating on the counter attack, the youngster outplayed Knights counterpart Tom Carr, who had seemed to be a shoo-in for Thornton’s opening line-up but might now be looking over his shoulder should Shaul be made available.
Props Chris Green and Josh Bowden likewise outmuscled York’s front row and, while one if not both appear likely to be made available for York next weekend, it only takes an injury or two in the Airlie Bird ranks for them to be taken straight back to their parent club.
How York could miss the now retired Paul King.
Jack Aldous was his usual hard-working, multi-tackling self, and Matt Nicholson enjoyed a decent first hit-out after injury, capped by a try, when running a good line to power home.
Sam Scott also had a good game in the second row, but otherwise Hull’s pack had more to offer, especially when Aldous and Nicholson were spelled.
Scoreless at the quarter-mark, Hull bagged six tries in the next 20 minutes, scything through a York side who began to fall off tackles with disconcerting regularity.
Okay, it is still pre-season and commitment and effort generally lift when points are at stake but, considering much of York’s recent training has been on first contacts, Thornton had plenty of reasons to be disappointed.
Lineham set up Shaul for the first try, after Richard Horne – one of three first-team regulars in the visitors’ starting XIII – had caught out the hosts down the short side, before Nicklas bagged his first try when skirting around Jonny Presley, a rival for a half-back berth in Thornton’s team.
York winger George Elliott, whose place is probably one of those under threat from the incomers, capped a bad day at the office when fumbling a Horne kick facing his own try line, allowing Ben Crooks to touch down.
Centre Crooks, another of the dual-reg contingent, added eight conversion from 11 attempts.
In the next two attacks, smart ball work ended with speedster Lineham striking twice.
It got worse for York on the half-time hooter as sub forward Jansen Turgut’s converted effort made it 36-0 – the try being a product of a wonderful counter attack by Shaul, after Presley had sparked a rare York foray only for Lineham to cover his kick and feed the full-back.
Home mistakes contributed to Hull starting the second half on top, with Shaul increasing the lead when taking Nicklas’ grubber and arcing in.
Another kick brought a try in the other corner for Jack Briscoe, another dual-reg player.
York got on the board when Dean Hadley fumbled Presley’s little kick and Presley touched down, Simon Brown goaling. Hadley is another dual-reg player, and might simply have been trying to aid his potential future team-mates.
Five minutes later, Presley was denied by an ankle-tap from James Cunningham, following a good run by Scott, with the ball transferred right where Ben Dent dived in.
Nicholson then crossed, although by now Hull had the bulk of their subs – academy players – on the field.
The visitors struck thrice more, too. Nicklas was instrumental as sub winger Tom Stark dived in, Nicklas himself finished a fine move, and trialist Jack Latus benefited from poor defence out wide.
One bright spot for York was the fact James Haynes – whose comeback after a year out with injury was in doubt after a setback in training – got through 30 second-half minutes, albeit while understandably breathing heavily at times.
He tweeted later that “we will be better when it matters next week”.
Let’s hope he’s right.
Knights: Carr, Elliott, Ford, Lyons, Dent, Brown, Presley, Nicholson, Brining, Aldous, Scott, Smith, Golden: Subs (all used): Minikin, Bell, Carter, Dale, Iley, Pickles, Haynes.
Tries: Presley 53; Dent 58; Nicholson 63.
Conversions: Brown 53.
Hull: Jamie Shaul, Lineham, Crooks, J Briscoe, Latus, Horne, Nicklas, Green, Cunningham, Bowden, Hadley, Whiting, Johnson. Subs (all used): Starling, Wilson, Turgut, Abdull, Braham, Ward, Stark.
Tries: Shaul 20, 45; Nicklas 23, 69; Crooks 32; Lineham 34, 36; Turgut 40; Briscoe 49; Stark 69; Latus 78.
Conversions: Crooks 20, 23, 32, 34, 46, 40, 69, 78.
Referee: Jamie Leahy (Dewsbury).
• Don’t miss The Press tomorrow as we begin the countdown to the start of the Knights’ Championship campaign on Sunday.