AFTER a week of the club refusing to comment on how Alex Godfrey's two-year drugs ban would affect the rest of the team, the York City Knights decided to let the rugby do the talking at the Rams Stadium.

And boy, do actions speak louder than words.

The Knights yesterday sent out a stern message to the absent Godfrey that they're doing just fine without him, thank you very much - but only after an uncharacteristically terrible first half.

The first points were only scored in the 29th minute, the ball handling was sloppy and the Knights were simply not themselves.

Both Scott Rhodes and Aaron Wood sprinted through the Rams line only for their hard work - made even more so by the heat of the day and a stiff head wind - to come undone as sloppy passes were sprayed to opposing players or into touch.

A confident-looking Rams used the wind to their advantage with a 40-20 and several useful kicks keeping them entrenched in the Knights half of the field.

But when Danny Brough attempted a deft low kick of his own on 20 minutes, which Scott Walker gleefully pounced on in the corner, referee Gareth Walker - who himself was decidedly off his game in the first 40 - ruled it out for offside.

John Smith came within a foot of scoring a try with his first touch but could not ground in a sea of Rams.

Austin Buchanan finally gave the bored scorer something to do after nearly half an hour after Damian Ball handed off in the corner and he wriggled through a tackle to ground the ball. Brough's conversion attempt struck the post and it was a penalty for each side - the Rams' only points of the game, scored by ex-Knight Adam Thaler - that let the scores limp to 6-2 at half time.

Coach Richard Agar modestly shrugged off the effect his team talk must have had but something clearly happened.

A light was switched on, Brough materialised from nowhere to lead the defensive duties and across the field reactions were sharper, as epitomised by substitute Mark Cain when he charged down a 49th-minute kick, latched on to the rebound and sprinted down the clear pitch to score a great individual try and seemingly eliminate the last of the ghosts of the first half.

Then the Knights never looked back as they completed their seventh consecutive win - a new best for a York RL side since the promotion winning antics of the 1984-85 team.

Three minutes later, Rhodes sold the cutest of dummies, raced into space and handed off to Cain for another try.

The symbolic crushing of the Rams became a physical reality within a minute when Walker forced a Dewsbury player to fumble a high ball near his goal line. Lee Jackson got a handle on it and Brough darted over between the sticks.

Yusuf Sozi, back from an ankle knock, bulldozed a path through the Rams defence in typical style for Simon Friend to power his way over the line and make up for the petulant push that sent him to the sin bin at the end of the first half.

Defensively, the Knights were as solid as ever with Rhodes and Brough both tackling men twice their size with every other Knight just as committed.

The constant threat continued as loan signing Johnny Wainhouse showed a glimpse of his Leeds Rhinos academy talent with a 25-yard jinking run through the centre which resulted in a Brough grubber kick just skipping beyond the reach of Walker.

The Knights' brief scoring hiatus came to an end when Craig Forsyth broke through a tackle and released Brough for his second try of the game on 72 minutes.

Rhodes created a training field scenario with a high kick from the Knights 40 that saw Buchanan and Walker race each other to the bouncing ball, Buchanan winning the chase and then scoring after side-stepping the last defender.

And after barely regaining his breath, the superfit youngster picked up a loose ball on his own ten and sprinted the length of the field for a spectacular and deserved hat-trick try.

Godfrey will be hoping his appeal is heard and won - and fast - if he is to get a foot back in this winning team.

Dewsbury: R Thaler, Preece, Redfearn, Kirke, Williamson, A Thaler, Mycoe, Hicks, Dyson, Hawksley, Spink, Kershaw, Firth. Subs (all used): Waddle, Davis, Gibbons, Naidole.

Tries: None.

Conversions: None.

Penalties: A Thaler 33.

Drop goals: None.

Sin-binned: Naidole 43.

Sent off: None.

Knights: Graham 8, Buchanan 9, Langley 8, Wood 8, Walker 8, Rhodes 9, Brough 9, Wilson 8, Jackson 8, Sozi 8, Callaghan 8, Friend 8, Ball 8. Subs (all used): Wainhouse 7, Cain 9, J Smith 8, Forsyth 8.

Tries: Buchanan 29, 76, 79; Cain 49, 52; Brough 53, 72; Friend 55.

Conversions: Brough 49, 52, 53, 58, 72, 79; Graham 76.

Penalties: Brough 38.

Drop goals: None.

Sin-binned: Friend 39.

Sent off: None.

Man of the match: A tough call but Danny Brough's personal 22-point haul and outstanding defensive display just edges him in front of Scott Rhodes and Austin Buchanan's stunning hat-trick.

HT: 2-6

Ref: Gareth Hewer

Rating: Missed an awful lot in the first half but tightened his game for the second.

Penalty Count: 10-15

Gamebreaker: Mark Cain's self-made 49th-minute try was the lucky break the Knights needed and after that, the floodgates simply opened.

Attendance: 1,264.

Weather watch: hot but with a stiff breeze.

Match rating: Wow. If you went home at half-time you would have missed a cracker. Agar deserves a medal.

Updated: 11:22 Monday, June 14, 2004