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Match report: York City Knights 26, Leeds U20s 18 - pre season friendly
JORDAN TANSEY made an immediate impact on his first outing for York City Knights as he helped his new team turn a 12-4 half-time deficit into 26-18 victory.
Visitors Leeds Rhinos Under-20s might have had less Super League experience on show than their Championship hosts, with only loose-forward Brad Singleton, with one substitute appearance to his name, having any top-tier knowledge.
But they were the better team in a first half which showcased decent defence if not a great deal of attacking aplomb.
However, it all changed after the break following the entrance of former Leeds, Sydney Roosters, Hull and Crusaders star Tansey, making his York bow a week after his arrival.
Playing at half-back – surely the position he will fill once the season starts – he sparked the Knights into life and played a big part in two tries as the home team finally overran their young guests.
Player-coach Chris Thorman had ummed and ahhed about whether to give him a hit-out or another week to get used to his surroundings before next Saturday’s friendly visit of both players’ former club, Hull.
The fact another former Hull star, Paul King, was not risked due to a hamstring niggle possibly influenced Thorman’s decision to let him have a run, and he was probably glad he did as the 25-year-old lifted proceedings and showed more than a glimpse of his potential at Championship level.
The only worry for Knights fans is that too many eye-catching displays when the season proper starts might bring Tansey back into the sight of potential Super League suitors.
Thorman had fielded several senior players from the off, such as Waine Pryce, who gave a decent show on his first outing for York, Alex Benson, who will probably want to be more forceful in games to come, Jack Lee, and the James trio Haynes, Ford and Houston.
Centre George Elliott, who joined from Leeds in the off-season, also had more top-tier experience than this entire Rhinos opposition, thanks to one first-team start for the Headingley club last year.
They were all outshone, though, by young Jack Aldous, a pocket-rocket prop playing at loose-forward, and substitute second-row Ed Smith, as well as several of the young Rhinos, not least stand-off Stevie Ward, who set up the opening try.
His neat kick caught York sleeping, Matty Syron patted the ball back before it went dead, and full-back Jimmy Watson touched it down as defenders stood watching. Scrum-half Sean Casey converted.
Aldous set up the response as his great offload allowed Brett Turner to send in winger Dave Sutton.
However, some scrappy play was pierced by a fine try from speedy Leeds winger Jamel Chisholm, who skipped beyond two challenges down the left, Casey goaling.
Leeds substitute Colton Roche was also held on his back over the line, while Casey was just scragged back on a diagonal run to the line as the young visitors showed all the attacking prowess.
A Lee pass, on a rare York foray, was also intercepted by Ward, who streaked forward looking for a third try. Ben Hellewell, on at full-back, had been beaten for Chisholm’s try but had this attack well covered.
Hellewell and prop Brooke Broughton were making their bows following their arrivals on dual- registration forms from Warrington. Like Hellewell, Broughton’s first involvement was not great – he spilled the ball in a hit-up – but both looked decent enough thereafter on their first runs of the year.
Tansey’s first involvement, on for stand-off Brett Turner, was better – sending up a huge bomb which bamboozled full-back Watson, although the bounce did not go York’s way.
The Knights did hit back soon, though, as substitute prop Davey Burns took the ball in hard close to the sticks and got out a superb offload that gave hooker Lee a half-chance. Haynes converted.
Burns was also on hand to clean up an attacking Leeds kick, while a short Tansey pass also saw Broughton make a half-break that briefly excited the crowd.
Tansey was given a reminder he still had work to do when being caught shooting out of the defensive line for Ollie Olds’ delayed pass to send Aaron Brown sprinting home, Dan Smith goaling.
But he was instrumental in York’s fightback. His clever pass saw Ed Smith weave towards the whitewash and when the play switched left he was there to send Sutton over again.
Then, after John Gay, on at hooker, picked the right pass when giving big Adam Howard the chance to crash over, Tansey’s little pass saw Howard again charge towards the line, this time slipping out a lovely pass – showing awareness and dexterity that belied his rugby league inexperience – for Adam Sullivan to touch down. Haynes and Hellewell added goals.
Knights: Haynes, Pryce, Ford, Elliott, Sutton, Turner, Williams, Sullivan, Lee, Benson, Clarke, Houston, Aldous.
Subs (all used): Hellewell, Tansey, Broughton, Howard, Gay, E Smith, Burns.
Tries: Sutton 14, 58; Lee 46; Howard 62; Sullivan 72. Goals: Haynes 2/4; Hellewell 1/1.
Leeds U20s: Watson, Agoro, Normington, Keinhorst, Chisholm, Ward, Casey, D Smith, Hood, Syron, Bravo, Scott, Singleton.
Subs (all used): Brown, Olds, Roche, Morgan, Pring, R Smith, Nicholson.
Tries: Watson 7; Chisholm 25; Brown 55. Goals: Casey 2/2; D Smith 1/1.
Referee: Jamie Bloem (Halifax).
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