YORK City Knights began their 2022 season with a convincing 46-6 pre-season friendly victory over Midlands Hurricanes at the LNER Community Stadium.

The win never looked in doubt for York who ran in eight tries, five of which came in a dominant first half.

Liam Harris was the stand-out in a clinical first 40 minutes, the half-back scoring two tries and bagging an assist on his return to the Knights.

York began to fade somewhat in the second half as errors crept in into their game and misplaced offloads went to ground.

That allowed the limited Midlands - competing for the first time since their rebranding - back into the game to score just once, though the Knights ended brightly with two more tries to add to the second of Olly Butterworth’s finishes.

The new-look Knights contained 11 new signings in their squad, with just eight players who featured for the club last season included.

As expected, trialists Rory Nettleton and Brad Ward began on the bench for York, while only Matty Marsh, Jack Logan and Pauli Pauli were missing from the provisional squad.

Perhaps the most telling inclusions were that of the Knights half-backs Harris and Jamie Ellis.

Having brought the pair back to the club during the off-season, James Ford was able to call upon two out-and-out halves for the first time since June.

Even in the early stages, that seemed to have as big of an impact as you would imagine.

An early Harris grubber won York a goal line drop out inside three minutes while Ellis looked sharp and confident in possession, leading the Knights’ forays forward.

It was unsurprising therefore when Harris scored the game and year’s first try. On the back of a six-again, the former Hull FC half put in another short kick which Midlands did not with and he gratefully jumped on the loose ball near the line.

The Hurricanes did have a perfect chance to respond after winning back-to-back penalties and a six-again but Matthew Welham was easily pushed into touch in the corner.

York soon doubled their lead when Harris showed good strength for such a diminutive player to push off a defender and hand off for Myles Harrison to stroll over.

Ellis appears as if he may have taken the kicking duties this year and he converted twice. He would go on to kick seven of eight goal attempts.

Once more, Midlands worked themselves into the York half but their attack appeared rusty as the ball was flung over the touchline.

York took advantage of a penalty they won around 20m from the Midlands line. Will Jubb produced an audacious cut-out pass from dummy half and left Butterworth with the simplest of tries.

The gulf between the two sides was shown in York’s advantage at 16-0 but it was further highlighted by the Knights’ fourth try.

Harris got close to the line after forcing an error in the previous set and looked for a pass left. He decided against it, turned right and simply danced his way through some poor away defending for his second.

By now, York were simply cutting through Midlands at will. Danny Kirmond, captain-for-the-night in the absence of Chris Clarkson, was the latest on the scoresheet.

The back-rower latched onto an Ellis pass and slipped through a gap to score from 20m out.

York’s halves continued to cause all sorts of problems for Midlands until late in the half. Harris won his side another drop-out but Jordan Thompson could only knock on over the line in the next set.

Shortly after the restart, the Hurricanes looked in prime position to register their points of the match when they were awarded a six-again deep in York territory.

The visitors were again guilty of rushing their attacks though and Sean Croston’s pass found the touchline rather than his winger’s hands for a dot down.

York, as they had done on near enough every occasion, quickly punished Midlands. Winger Butterworth was released down the right flank, raced to the corner before beating a defender in goal and touching down near the posts.

As the hour mark of the match of the match approached, York’s tempo seemed to wane. The Knights’ handling errors were gradually increasing and they were guilty of overplaying in their own half.

On 59 minutes, Midlands eventually grabbed a deserved try. Winger Anthony Boardman displayed some great strength next to the line, pushing off one defender and getting past two more to find the whitewash.

Ex-York City Knight Benn Hardcastle added the extras.

Suddenly, the Hurricanes found themselves on top and York were finding it tough to even get out of their own half, despite scoring at ease before the interval.

Ellis had to win a footrace to a loose ball in-goal and the Knights were forced into some good defence to put Adam Reed in touch.

Ford seemed far from impressed as he left his position in the far stand to order Jacob Ogden and Will Oakes back onto the pitch from the touchline.

Of course, the final result was never in doubt, but it will be the overall performance that the York boss will look to rather than the scoreline.

With 10 minutes to go, after a good quarter-of-an-hour spell on the back foot, York at last showed some quality and duly scored from it.

The lively AJ Towse put them on the front foot and set the platform for a Jack Teanby half-break, with the supporting Kriss Brining smartly finishing the chance.

In the dying stages, Masi Matongo put the finishing touches on the win. Too big and too strong, the forward collected Jubb’s dummy-half pass and barged over some tired defence.

York: Harrison, Butterworth, Glover, Ogden, Oakes, Harris, Ellis, Matongo, Jubb, Teanby, Warren, Kirmond, Thompson.

Subs (all used): Stock, Brining, Towse, Michael, Nettleton, Ward.

Tries: Harris (9, 28), Harrison (17), Butterworth (22, 48), Kirmond (33), Brining (70), Matongo (77)

Goals: Ellis (7/8)

York’s star man: Liam Harris. Two tries and an assist for the returning half-back.

Midlands: Cowburn, M. Welham, Croston, L. Welham, Boardman, Stead, Hardcastle, Clavering, Windley, Dawson, Bowring, Newbound, Walton.

Subs (all used): Budd, Blakey, O’Sullivan, Bull, Reed, Phillips, Freeman, Kaufman.

Tries: Boardman (60)

Goals: Hardcastle (1/1)

Attendance: Not given

Referee: Kevin Moore

Penalties/Set restarts: 8 | 8

GLDOs won: 2 | 0