YORK City Knights reasserted an eight-point cushion inside the Betfred Championship play-off positions after a tightly-contested 27-18 victory over Newcastle Thunder at the Summer Bash.

York edged a tight first half 10-8 and capitalised on Ellis Robson’s sin-binning to bring up a 20-8 lead.

A couple of quick-fire Newcastle scores took the game into a tight finale but the Knights rallied to close out a victory that ends their four-match losing run.

More importantly, following on from Widnes Vikings’ 36-24 defeat to Barrow Raiders just hours earlier at Headingley, York’s place inside the top six was strengthened, with eight points now separating themselves and seventh-placed Widnes with six regular season matches to go.

Head coach James Ford will know that improvements still need to be made, having looked defensively suspect on occasion against bottom five opposition.

Yet after the recent sequence, two points were the priority and there is still plenty of time to go before the season-defining play-offs.

Ford will also likely have further troops back for the back end of the season, as he did at the home of the Leeds Rhinos.

While captain Chris Clarkson was back involved, Matty Marsh made a stellar comeback on his return after a three-game absence, having a hand in four of York’s five tries.

And the full-back made an immediate impact on his return, assisting Joe Brown’s early opener on eight minutes.

After Alex Donaghy inexplicably dropped a pass under no pressure, York went right straight from the scrum, with Marsh sending Brown strolling in at the corner.

Liam Harris added the conversion, the first of his three conversions.

The full-back did though show some early rustiness in defence, unable to catch a Joe Shorrocks kick and conceding a repeat set, though Gideon Boafo knocking-in was all Newcastle could conjure after also winning a drop-out.

Jay Chapelhow and Mitch Clark also produced errors deep in York territory but Thunder finally capitalised on their field position through Ukuma Ta’ai.

The Tonga international drove through some terrible Knights defence and grounded under the sticks, despite having five would-be tacklers around him.

Jake Shorrocks tagged on the two points and did so again shortly after through a penalty goal 30m out centre field to put his side narrowly in front.

That lead lasted just a handful of minutes as York, who won a quick-fire couple of penalties themselves, chose to run the ball, a correct decision it would prove as Marsh’s fired cut-out pass gave Brown his brace.

The dour first half finished in error-strewn fashion. Mullen lost the ball after Jordan Thompson’s loose carry before a couple of York errors saw Thomas Forber held up on the hooter.

Even after the restart, the mistake-riddled pattern continued. Boafo handed the York the ball on Newcastle’s 20 after failing to take a pass but a set lacking any cutting edge in attack ended in Marsh coughing up possession.

The number one soon atoned for his error though, capitalising on York’s numerical advantage after seeing late call-up Ellis Robson sin-binned for a professional foul on Brown.

Seconds later, Marsh threw a huge step at the line before wrestling through four surrounding defenders to ground.

The former Hull KR man could not be kept out the game, sending Harris through a gap before James Glover went clear for a reach out to the whitewash.

Just York appeared to have an established some momentum, Joe Porter’s error from an overly-eager play-the-ball on his 20 turned the tide.

Two penalties meant the pressure was too great as Connor Bailey dummied his way through.

A set later, Isaac Nokes then side-stepped past two outside defenders before out-foxing last-man Marsh.

Craig Mullen, taking the kicking duties from the injured Shorrocks, added only one conversion, leaving York’s lead at just two points.

In the end, some quality from a fresh body amid a bruising and a stop-start contest, owing to the number of injuries incurred, settled matters.

On the back of a six-again, Tom Inman, on the field for only the final 15 minutes, poked a delightful short kick through at the line and Danny Kirmond gleefully won the race to the loose ball.

With four minutes left, York survived the final piece of Newcastle pressure, with the Thunder penalised for obstruction close to the line.

The Knights managed to finish the close contest strongly, adding a one-pointer from Brendan O’Hagan with the last play of the game.

Newcastle: Mullen, Boafo, Nokes, Gallagher, Donaghy, Shorrocks, Bailey, T. Chapelhow, Eaves, J. Chapelhow, Day, Roberts, Wilde.

Subs (all used): Clark, Ta’ai, Robson, Forber.

Tries: Ta’ai (23’), Bailey (57’), Nokes (60’)

Goals: Shorrocks (2/2), Mullen (1/2)

Sin-bin: Robson (49’)

York: Marsh, Brown, Glover, Edwards, Towse, O’Hagan, Harris, Thompson, Jubb, Teanby, Kirmond, Ogden, Clarkson.

Subs (all used): Stock, Michael, Porter, Inman.

Tries: Brown (8’, 31’), Brown (50’), Glover (53’), Kirmond (71’)

Goals: Harris (3/5)

Field-goal: O’Hagan (80’)

York’s star man: Matty Marsh. Proved his class on his return to the field by having a hand in all but one of York’s five tries, scoring one, assisting two and beginning the move for Glover’s score.

Referee: Liam Rush

Attendance: 4,011

Penalties/Six-agains: 8-6

Goal-line drop-outs forced: 1-1