New Zealander Dave Watson returned to haunt his former club with a devastating show which sent York Wasps crashing to their first defeat under Garry Atkins.

Wasps caretaker boss Atkins was not a happy man after seeing his side fail to turn their early pressure into points.

They dominated territorially for long periods yet were left frustrated by their inability to break down a solid defence.

They could have had the points wrapped up in the first 25 minutes but instead it was man of the match Watson who turned the game with two moments of magic.

All York had to show for their superiority was a Mark Cain field goal before full-back Watson upped the tempo.

He provided a defence-splitting pass to send second rower Stuart Hoyles racing to the line from 40 metres, though full-back Darren Callaghan will be kicking himself for missing the tackle on the Town forward.

Then Watson's perfectly weighted kick straight from a scrum on his own 40 metre line caught the York defence flat. It bounced just short of the try-line and Workington winger Graeme Lewthwaite was the first to the ball to score in the corner.

With Paul Cook also converting the opener, it gave Workington a 10-1 half-time lead that they really didn't deserve.

York must have thought it was going to be their day at the start when they regathered their own kick-off and spent the next 25 minutes camped on the Workington line.

Livewire Gareth Dobson, again deployed at scrum-half, was at the centre of all York's most dangerous attacks and his ball sent Chris Judge on a 40 metre break after just four minutes.

Prop Steve Hill was also causing havoc with his driving runs and was involved in some impressive York play but they lacked the final ball to break down the defence.

Despite York's dominance it was Workington who went closest in those opening exchanges when centre Stephen McGrady crossed in the corner only for the pass to be ruled forward.

York's cause was not helped when workaholic prop Rich Hayes hobbled from the field after 22 minutes. His enforced departure brought the introduction of Heworth player-coach Craig Forsyth, back in a York shirt for the first time in three years.

Forsyth went on to have a fine game in the front row which was certainly one positive for York. Not so encouraging was the mounting casualty list.

Andy Hill (concussion), Matt Woodcock (leg) and Lee McTigue (ankle) all had to withdraw in the second half through injury which disrupted the Wasps' pattern.

Atkins was forced to try a number of variations which included bringing on debutant Craig Robinson at scrum-half and switching Callaghan to stand-off.

But nothing could provide that extra spark which York had been lacking.

They started the second half brightly and got to within seven points when Kevin Gray converted a penalty.

McTigue and outstanding winger Max Ryce were both held inches short, then Woodcock just missed out on a try against his old team-mates when he couldn't quite reach a Callaghan grubber kick before it went dead.

That was the nearest York came to scoring before winger Leigh Smith virtually settled it for the home side with 20 minutes to go. He took the ball from acting half a few metres out and capitalised on some slack defence to dive over next to the posts for Cook to convert.

York gave themselves a glimmer of hope when they finally found a way through the defence four mintes later. They kept the ball alive well in the Workington 10 metre area after two successive sets of six before the ball was moved out quickly to the left side where Callaghan was on hand to shrug off a tackle and touch down in the corner.

But any hopes of a revival were extinguished when Cook added a penalty and a field goal, then in the dying minutes Smith went in for his second try after picking up a loose pass from Callaghan on the half-way line.

Callaghan should have had a consolation try in injury time after linking well with Cain but knocked on over the line in a two-man tackle.

It was quite fitting that the game should end with another missed opportunity - it summed up York's performance to a tee.

Northern Ford Premiership, Sunday, April 9, at Derwent Park

Workington 23, York 7

YORK WASPS: Darren Callaghan 7, Matt Woodcock 6, Kevin Gray 6, Andy Preston 6, Max Ryce 8, Mark Cain 7, Gareth Dobson 8, Rich Hayes 7, Alan Pallister 6, Steve Hill 8, Mick Hagan 7, Andy Hill 8, Chris Judge 7.

Subs: Craig Robinson (for Pallister 40mins) 6, Lee McTigue (Hagan 40) 7, John McCracken (Preston 62) -, Craig Forsyth (Hayes 22) 7. Re-subs: Hagan for A Hill 66, Pallister for Woodcock 73.

Tries: Callaghan (62mins).

Penalties: Gray 1.

Field goals: Cain (21min).

Guildford Construction/ Evening Press Man of the Match

Steve Hill: The prop forward made it three outstanding displays in succession, making valuable yards right to the final whsitle

WORKINGTON: Dave Watson, Graeme Lewthwaite, Stephen McGrady, Paul Cook, Leigh Smith, Michael Dempsey, Gary Murdock, Matt Sturm, Owen Williamson, Ryan Charters, John Allen, Stuart Hoyles, Anthony Samuels.

Subs: John Addison (for Dempsey 59), Craig Barker (Sturm 73), Tau Liku (Charters 53), William Blackburn (Allen 26)

Tries: Hoyles (26mins), Lewthwaite (32), Smith (58, 76).

Conversions: Cook 2. Penalties: Cook 1

Field goal: Cook (73mins).

Match statistics

Workington York

Penalties: 7 4

Scrums won: 12 6

40/20 kicks: 0 1

Half-time: 10 1

Referee: Paul Lee (Tyldesley)

Attendance: 658

Match rating: 7/10

York's next match: Sunday, April 16, v Leigh at Huntington Stadium, 3pm kick-off