DEBUTANT Ata Hingano inspired a laboured York City Knights to a tightly-fought 22-10 win at relegation-threatened Dewsbury Rams.

The scores were locked at 6-6 by the time Hingano was introduced off the bench before the Tonga international scored a try and set one up.

Dewsbury fought back to cut the gap to just one score and only a second Matty Marsh finish in the dying stages saw off second-from-bottom Dewsbury, who are now on a 13-match winless streak.

For York, now up to fifth in the Betfred Championship and 10 points clear inside the play-offs, to have been pushed so close by a side whose season has been such a struggle is a further reminder of the gap that appears in place between the Knights and the sides above them in the top six.

Fortunately, with five regular season games left, time is on their hands to continue to build some form to be able to threaten in the play-offs.

Should the impressive Hingano continue from these bright first impressions, then York may well be a handful.

His introduction was one of four changes from the side which beat Newcastle Thunder 27-18 last time out at the Summer Bash, replacing Tom Inman as an interchange.

Pauli Pauli was back from suspension at starting prop, with Bailey Antrobus and Ronan Dixon also back returning to the forward pack, the former following a hamstring injury.

Danny Kirmond, Levi Edwards and Jack Teanby dropped out, the latter two through injury.

In the week, head coach James Ford had spoken of the tight nature of the Tetley’s Stadium pitch, as proven by four players being forced into touch inside the opening quarter.

After Jacob Ogden had been pushed over the sideline, York’s second shift left saw AJ Towse put a foot in touch before dotting down in the corner.

For Dewsbury, after good work to put Joe Brown in touch deep in his own half, Keenan Tomlinson suffered the same fate from a wide move down the right.

The two sides may have been separated by seven places and 23 points in the league table pre-match, yet there was nothing between them after the first point-less 30 minutes.

Jordan Thompson being held up from a trademark crash play with Will Jubb was as close as York had come to breaking the deadlock.

The sound of Matty Marsh’s expletive-laden berating of his team-mates from full-back summed up the first half-hour.

After 33 minutes though, the Knights were finally on the board. From a loose pass, the ever-willing Towse made valuable metres upfield and a play later, Liam Harris’ clever change of direction saw him ghost under the sticks, before adding the conversion himself.

Dewsbury went on to kick the restart out on the full and while York marched upfield, Pauli knocked on from the play-the-ball after a powerful surge at the line.

The Rams finished strongly and managed to go in level, though in controversial circumstances.

Ex-York loanee Reiss Butterworth kicked a 40/20 before Paul Sykes, on his 500th career appearance, forced a drop-out.

Pauli’s tough but legal-looking tackle was penalised for a shoulder charge, much to the frustration of Ford. Connor Davies took full advantage of the field position, charging over from a short pass.

Sykes’ conversion levelled the scores at 6-6 by the break, a half-time scoreline nobody foresaw.

York made a bright start to the second half but amid some stern Dewsbury defence and a little blunt visiting attack, they were held up thrice, twice through Thompson and once through Chris Clarkson.

The Knights needed a spark and it arrived when Brendan O’Hagan kicked a brilliant 40/20 kick.

From there, interchange Ata Hingano, just two minutes into his debut off the bench, dummied through the line for a maiden York try.

With Harris off the field, James Glover took the kicking duties but missed on his first attempt at goal.

The hosts fought back creditably, with ex-Great Britain and England international Sykes’ dab in goal winning another drop-out.

But Dewsbury could not profit and were duly punished through more class from Hingano. This time the Tongan conjured a wonderful offload at the line for Marsh to simply pick up and ground. Glover found the target from the kicking tee.

The game was far from over by this point tough. The Leigh loanee’s first blemish, a deep in-goal kick, gave Dewsbury a 20m restart from which the Rams showed great hands through Jake Sweeting and Dom Speakman to put former Knights winger Lewis Carr over in the corner.

The gap stayed at six points though as Sykes’ touchline conversion drifted wide.

The visitors rallied when O’Hagan’s drop-out gave field position for Hingano to put Ogden in down the left.

Remarkably, referee James Vella disallowed the score despite the York players’ protestations.

York went on to force two more drop-outs but the pressure ended in Ronan Michael knocking on from close range.

Hearts were in mouths when Dewsbury won a late penalty in York’s half but Ronan Michael dived on the loose ball a couple of metres out.

The game was finally won by the Knights when Marcus Stock broke through some tired defence to relate Marsh for a game-clinching try, which Glover converted.

Dewsbury: Sweeting, Blackmore, Greensmith, Tomlinson, Graham, Sykes, Speakman, Luke-Kirby, Butterworth, Walker, Knowles, Davies, Mathiou.

Subs (all used): Beckett, Schofield, Stevens, Blagbrough.

Tries: Davies (40’), Carr (64’)

Goals: Sykes (1/2)

York: Marsh, Brown, Glover, Ogden, Towse, O’Hagan, Harris, Pauli, Jubb, Michael, Clarkson, Stock, Thompson.

Subs used: Dixon, Antrobus, Porter, Hingano. Subs not used: Antrobus

Tries: Harris (33’), Hingano (50’), Marsh (58’, 78’)

Goals: Harris (1/1), Glover (2/3)

York’s star man: Ata Hingano. Scored and set up a try on his debut. Would have had a second assist were it not for a poor refereeing call.

Referee: James Vella

Attendance: 711

Penalties/Six-agains: 5-9

Goal-line drop-outs forced: 2-4