YORK City Knights battled hard to win a thrilling Betfred Championship clash at Dewsbury Rams by a 30-20 scoreline.

In a back-and-forth encounter in which neither side led by much until the final seconds, the quality of York finally shone through by the end.

By the hour, the scores were locked at 20-a-piece and the Knights displayed tremendous heart in defence to stop a resolute Dewsbury and then crucially some moments of skill in attack to seal the points.

The Knights had managed to reel off 64 points in their win at Swinton Lions last time out, but this victory was equally as impressive and reminiscent of the form of 2019 where matches were won tightly.

Heading into matches against some of the division’s big-hitter this month, York look battle-hardened for the challenges ahead.

York showed just one change from the side which thrashed Swinton last time out. It was an enforced change, as loanee Lewis Peachey returned to parent club Castleford Tigers and was replaced by the fit-again James Green.

The Knights hit the front with a Kieran Dixon try early on at Heywood Road and they attempted a carbon copy play in the opening stages.

On the last, Riley Dean threw a cut-out pass to the winger who looked set for the corner, but the referee ruled it forward.

York then went close down the other flank as Ben Jones-Bishop dropped Matty Marsh’s wide kick over the try-line.

Despite the pressure applied by the visitors, it was Dewsbury who posted the first points of the evening through a Paul Sykes penalty bang in front of the posts on a dozen minutes after the Knights were caught offside.

After a subdued start, that penalty sparked Dewsbury into life. Sykes was the instigator through a wicked spiralling kick which Jones-Bishop dropped.

In front field position, a classy show of hands to the left sent over Matty Fleming to score unchallenged with Sykes gosling again.

York were soon back in the contest though and, off the back of a cheap penalty conceded late in the set, a classy grubber from Dean set up Ryan Atkins to ground on the left side.

Ill-discipline would also proving costly for York. Another poorly-conceded penalty, this time in favour of the Rams, put the hosts in prime striking position.

They again threw it wide, switching to the right flank where Andy Gabriel was on hand to was touch down. A brilliant Sykes conversion followed from the touchline.

A familiar pattern was now becoming evident as York again responded by capitalising on Dewsbury errors. The Rams invited pressure by knocking-on in their own half and conceding back-to-back penalties.

Marcus Stock got the eventual try by crashing through several defenders from his cutting running line.

With 90 seconds of the half to go, Dewsbury again conceded successive penalties, both for offside. From the latter, Kieran Dixon added to his two conversions to put the scores level at 14-14 as the teams went into the sheds.

York couldn’t have wished for a better start after the restart. A bomb from Dean was dropped stone-cold by Gabriel to put the away side 10m out.

And they took full advantage as Kieran Dixon collected Dean’s cut-out pass and acrobatically grounded by the corner flag. He followed that up with a tremendous touchline conversion too.

Back and forth the pendulum continued to swing in this gripping contest as Dewsbury determinedly fought back.

They did so from a questionable forward pass call against Dean in his own half and then a penalty in their favour.

That allowed the field position for Aaron Hall to get an arm free to touch down while surrounded by Knights defenders on the line. Sykes had the easy job of slotting over the kick.

Dewsbury, buoyed on by their large number of vocal directors, had the momentum at this point as they forced a drop-out with some hard-working defence but could only produce errors in attacking sets.

And, as the best sides do, York punished them soon after. Dean had gone close after a bit of a dance near the line and Danny Kirmond was held up.

Then, full-back Connor Wynne, having a quiet game up until then, conjured some lovely footwork near the sticks and found room to offload for Marsh to gleefully score under the posts. Kieran Dixon did the rest with the kick.

With a lead of just six points, matters were particularly tense for the final stages. Both sides went set-for-set and there was very little to separate them, with the next score decisive.

Dewsbury looked close to it but Wynne was part of some quality defending to stop a Jason Walton half-break near the line. York then followed that up with some more last-ditch stuff in their rearguard to deny the Rams.

York’s defence was now visibly tiring with Dewsbury gaining metres after contact regularly but their attack just lacked sharpness as again they put ball to ground.

But they managed to produce one last moment of class. Kieran Dixon wriggled through the defence and in support was - who else? - Marsh to surge to the corner.

Dixon’s kick was wide but it mattered little to the final result. As they did so often in 2019, York found a way to win. And really, that’s all that matters.

Dewsbury: Martin, Gabriel, Ryder, Fleming, Oakes, Sykes, Finn, Beckett, Butterworth, Garratt, Walton, Windrow, Annakin.

Subs (all used): Magrin, Tomlinson, Hall, Day.

Tries: Fleming (17), Gabriel (28), Hall (50)

Goals: Sykes (4/4)

York: Wynne, Jones-Bishop, Salter, Atkins, K Dixon, Marsh, Dean, R Dixon, Jubb, Aydin, Kirmond, Clarkson, Baldwinson.

Subs (all used): Washbrook, Cuthbertson, Stock, Green.

Tries: Atkins (22), Stock (34), K Dixon (42), Marsh (58, 77)

Goals: K Dixon (5/6)

York’s Star Man: Marcus Stock. Ran hard all evening and his well-judged angled line for his try was top-draw.