York Wasps 18, Hunslet Hawks 22

Northern Ford Premiership, at Huntington Stadium

(Sunday, May 21

Newcomer Michael Smith almost helped York Wasps complete a glorious revival but in the end had to settle for a debut try - and a reflection on what might have been.

York looked dead and buried when they trailed Hunslet Hawks 22-12 with just seven minutes remaining at Huntington Stadium.

But then New Zealander Smith, who had come on half-an-hour earlier, latched onto a wonderful break by Chris Judge to stroll in for his first try for the club.

Simon Irving's conversion took the Wasps to within four points of Hunslet and set up a nailbiting climax which saw York pile on the pressure.

Straight from the kick-off they worked the ball upfield and forced Hunslet to drop out from under their own posts.

Smith, who had already shown his strength with a couple of barnstorming runs, again carried four tacklers along as he went on a 40 metre charge to the line, slipping the ball out to Alan Pallister who just failed to find a way through the defence.

Still York kept Hunslet on the back foot and scrum-half Craig Robinson almost went over right at the death as the hooter brought an end to a thrilling finale.

On balance, it was probably a fair result but the Wasps will be kicking themselves for throwing away two points against an injury-hit Hunslet side fielding several youngsters.

As has so often been the case, a couple of crucial mistakes and a bit of indiscipline cost them dearly.

The two mistakes both came in the first half as a result of Hunslet kicks, and both led to tries for the visitors.

The first came when Dean Thomas couldn't take Willie Swann's high kick on his own 20 metre line. Straight from the scrum, the irrepressible Swann, who dictated play all afternoon, saw a gap in the defence and straightened up to touch down.

The second was even more crucial and came just 15 seconds from half-time when York were leading 12-8.

Max Ryce failed to deal with another Swann kick and the ball eventually fell to winger Chris Ross who went in for the easiest of tries from two yards out.

Ross' conversion meant Hunslet turned around 14-12 up and gave them a major psychological lift.

Up to that point the Wasps had stood their ground in an evenly-matched encounter. After Swann's opener, Ross and Simon Irving exchanged penalties before York opened their try account.

Craig Robinson's 40-20 kick set York up on the Hunslet 20 metre line and Mark Cain dummied his way through from close range.

York were soon ahead for the first time. Mick Ramsden, outstanding in the second row, showed good awareness to switch play quickly to the left and Andy Hill demonstrated a terrific turn of pace as he burst through the defence from the halfway line and stepped inside full-back Gareth King for one of the best tries scored at Huntington Stadium for some time.

The second half was nip and tuck with Max Ryce and Smith running well for York and Ross missing a penalty for Hunslet.

The Wasps were desperate to turn around their two-point deficit but instead it was Hunslet who found the breakthrough to take a vital eight-point advantage. It looked easy too, Swann taking the ball at first receiver from a scrum 10 metres out and sending in Hughes next to the posts.

Again York went on the attack, Ross just snatching the ball off Matt Woodcock's fingertips after Robinson's well-placed cross-field kick.

But another silly error from York - Robinson kicking the ball out on the full from a drop out - gave Ross the simplest of penalties from in front of the sticks.

That put Hunslet 10 points clear before York's late fightback proved in vain. To add to York's woes, Andy Preston and Dean Thomas both limped off in the first half and could face a couple of weeks on the sidelines.

As they say, when you're down on your luck, nothing goes right, which is something York Wasps have discovered to their cost this season.

YORK WASPS: Andy Preston -, Dean Thomas 6, Simon Irving 7, Andrew Lambert 7, Matt Woodcock 7, Mark Cain 7, Craig Robinson 7, Craig Forsyth 7, Alan Pallister 7, Steve Hill 7, Mick Ramsden 8, Andy Hill 8, Chris Judge 7.

Subs: Kevin Gray (for Preston 5mins) 6, Michael Smith (Forsyth 44) 7, Max Ryce (Thomas 20) 7, Mick Hagan (S Hill ) 67 -.

Re-subs: Forsyth for Ramsden 67

Tries: Cain (27mins), A Hill (37), Smith (73)

Conversions: Irving 2. Penalties: Irving 1

Guildford Construction/ Evening Press Man of the Match

Mick Ramsden: With fellow second rower Andy Hill, led the pack superbly. Tackled trielessly and worked hard to create openings, including Hill's try

HUNSLET: Gareth King, Chris Ross, Chris North, Darren Hughes, Shelton Davis, Willie Swann, Nicky Dobson, Gary Lord, Gareth Naylor, Steve Pryce, Andy Atha, Tony Fella, Mick Coyle.

Subs: Ben Skerrett (for Lord 62mins), Anthony Henderson (Davis 67).

Not used: Hamish Munton, Carl Ibbotson

Tries: Swann (6mins), Ross (40), Hughes (61)

Conversions: Ross 3

Penalties: Ross 2

Match statistics

York Hunslet

Penalties: 6 7

Scrums won: 6 12

40/20 kicks: 1 0

Half-time: 12, 14

Referee: Alan Bates (Workington)

Attendance: 581

Match rating: 8/10

York's next match: versus Rochdale Hornets at Huntington Stadium on Friday, May 26, at 7.30pm