Kingstone Press National Conference League Division One: York Acorn 20 Featherstone Lions 12

THE Kingstone Press National Conference League Division One season certainly got off to an explosive start as five red cards and two yellow cards were dished out as York Acorn upset the formbook by beating visitors Featherstone Lions 20-12 .

However, the flurry of dismissals didn't materialise until the 70th minute following a flare up close to the Acorn dug outs.

Several players got involved in the fighting and, when the dust had settled, two players from each side were given their marching orders, with Acorn winger Josh Thompson and second- rower Matthew Woods taking the 'long walk'.

Then, on 75 minutes, Acorn were reduced to 10 men when man of the match, second-rower Reece Rushworth, was sent off for retaliation, allegedly kicking his opposite number Joe Fox when he was on the floor.

That incident robbed Acorn of what would have been a sensational try by winger Matty Downes, who, from in front of his own posts, proceeded to bludgeon his way through the Featherstone defence and then race 70 metres to score a memorable try under the posts.

Unfortunately back on the halfway line another melee had erupted, this time when it appeared that Fox tripped Rushworth and then appeared to clamp a bicep around Rushworth's throat.

When he broke free and got to his feet, he allegedly kicked the player on the ground.

The initial provocation had been missed by the officials due to them following Downes' breathtaking break.

The try was disallowed and Rushworth was sent off still gasping for air, while Fox went unpunished.

Prior to these incidents, Featherstone had seen two of their players seperately dispatched to the sin bin during the first half.

As for the rugby, Acorn came out of the blocks like Usain Bolt, taking the lead within two minutes.

The combination play involved a Tim Elliott kick and regather, a Woods offload and a smart finish by prolific centre Ryan Gallacher to which Anthony Chilton added a conversion.

Acorn moved further in front on 17 minutes, when the influential Anthony Chilton produced another quality kick behind the Featherstone try line, and Tom Hill, playing in an accustomed prop role, just touched the ball down before it went dead.

Anthony Chilton put Acorn 12-0 in front by adding his customary conversion, and the advantage became 16-0 on 23 minutes when they managed to find acres of space on Featherstone's right-hand defence, with left centre Jordan Potter gleefully storming over for an unconverted try.

On the half-hour, Featherstone hit back when stand-off Tom Wandless punched a hole in the Acorn defence to score from 30 yards out, with full back Ian Jackson adding the conversion to put the visitors back in the game at 16-6.

Crucially Acorn edged further in front on 35 minutes when scrum half Tim Elliott produced the money ball that cut-out three players and sent Downes over in the corner for an unconverted try to give the hosts a commanding 20-6 lead at the interval.

The second half was defence dominated, with only one further score being registered.

On 68 minutes, Featherstone cut Acorns deficit to 20-12 after a period of sustained pressure resulted in a try for second-rower Fox, which Wandless added the conversion to.

After the shenanigans, Acorn were indebted to their scrambling defence and, in particular, Downes, Potter, Hill, Ryan Pryce and Brandon Harris for denying the visitors a crucial score.

Rushworth was a deserved man of the match, but he received excellent support from the in-form Anthony Chilton, who, along with scrum half Tim Elliott, bossed the game for Acorn, while Tom Hill might just have found a new role at prop after giving his best display for a long time.