YORK City Knights remain winless after their first two Betfred Championship matches after falling to a 20-14 defeat to Sheffield Eagles.

A brace from Anthony Thackeray and a Tyler Dickinson try, all in the first-half, built up strong and deserved Sheffield lead after a disciplined and largely error-free display.

York rallied in the second half and managed to cut the gap to just one score by the end, but a dogged defensive display by the Eagles managed to ensure they took the points.

Ford made six changes to the side that were knocked out of the Betfred Challenge Cup by Wigan Warriors.

He was able to recall Ryan Atkins, Ben Jones-Bishop and Brendan O’Hagan after their respective injuries while also handing out York debuts to Joe Keyes, Yusuf Aydin and Lewis Peachey, all brought in on loan this week.

York were in the ascendancy from the first whistle and looked to have taken the lead after just three minutes when, off the back of successive penalties, Will Jubb darted out of dummy half from close range but was remarkably held up by Joel Farrell.

Sam Scott knocked on from a repeat set and Sheffield punished them moments later when Oliver Davies broke through the middle and threw a hopeful pass to his outside.

Kieran Dixon could only get fingertips on the loose ball and Anthony Thackeray was well-placed to put the Eagles in front.

Isaac Farrell added a brilliant conversion from out wide.

York’s injury issues have been a feature of recent weeks and, on 16 minutes, they continued to mount as Marcus Stock went off with a HIA after a head clash.

Sheffield began to assert some control on the contest thereafter, with almost all their good play coming through talisman Thackeray.

Grubbers from Thackeray and Greg Burns forced consecutive drop outs, but the Knights defence held firm to claim Thackeray’s kick to the corner.

Still Sheffield dominated and they earned another kick from under the sticks, after a towering Isaac Farrell bomb but, by the end of another tough defensive set for York, it climaxed in an Izaac Farrell knock on.

On the half hour mark, York managed to provide a perfect response to their tough defensive work by levelling matters.

Kieran Dixon climbed highest to take a high Thackeray kick before racing the near length of the field before being stopped short.

York remained composed in good ball and O’Hagan showed his creativity to grubber for Will Jubb to touch down.

Kieran Dixon did the rest in front of the posts.

Despite that score, the familiar pattern of the game resumed, with Sheffield forcing a fourth and fifth drop-out and eventually scoring from the latter.

In the build-up, Ford revealed that ‘No dummies to Thackeray’ was an oft-repeated warning through the week but, with legs tiring at the back-end of the half, the veteran half-back showcased a typical show-and-go to put the visitors back in front.

With seconds left in the first-half, Sheffield grabbed another when sheer brute force from Tyler Dickinson allowed him to barge through several Knights bodies next to the posts.

Izaac Farrell goals followed both tries to give Sheffield a 12-point advantage at the break, a lead that was no more than they deserved for a composed and well-drilled first 40 minutes.

Immediately after the restart, Sheffield’s Greg Burns came off worse in a half’s first tackle and had to be stretched off.

York were the quickest out of the blocks after the lengthy delay and immediately cut the deficit.

Again, the Knights profited from an OHagan grubber which found its way into the hands of Kieran Dixon after Rob Worrincy was unable to gather.

Sheffield responded quickly though, through an Izaac Farrell goal and, with Kieran Dixon unable to convert his own score, the Eagles led by 10 points.

York still looked the stronger of the two sides and they were creating the game’s best chances.

A run of hands to the right looked promising only for the Knights to be penalised for obstruction.

Seconds later, as would appear to be York’s luck at present, they lost another key forward. This time it was the in-form Joe Porter who limped off hurt and become the latest injury concern.

The Knights remained firmly on top and were majorly testing the Sheffield defence, which was holding firm.

Kieran Dixon and Atkins couldn’t make anything of O’Hagan kick to left while surrounded by defenders.

Then, after back-to-back penalties and a drop-out, O’Hagan put too much weight on a grubber, which he had found the touch with earlier.

With six minutes left, Sheffield almost put the game well beyond York when the rapid Mike Adlard accelerated through a gap before being heroically stopped by a Matty Marsh cover tackle.

Late on, York finally got their just rewards when Liam Salter galloped his way past some tired Sheffield defenders.

Dixon couldn’t add the extras and, in the end, it proved just too late for the Knights in their quest to force an equaliser.


York: Marsh, K Dixon, Salter, Atkins, Jones-Bishop, O’Hagan, Keyes, R Dixon, Jubb, Aydin, Scott, Porter, Stock.

Subs (All used): Washbrook, Cuthbertson, Green, Peachey.

Tries: Jubb (29), K Dixon (45), Salter (76)

Goals: K Dixon (1/3)

Sheffield: Guzdek, Worrincy, Adlard, Glover, Millar, I Farrell, Thackeray, Wheeldon, G Burns, James, Davies, J Farrell, Brown.

Subs (All used): Davey, Mariano, P Burns, Dickinson.

Tries: Thackeray (6, 34), Dickinson (39)

Goals: I Farrell (4/4)

York’s Star Man: James Green. Really strong runner in the pack and had to do considerable minutes as Marcus Stock and Joe Porter went off early.