York Knights head coach Andrew Henderson’s first match in charge ended in a comfortable victory, with his side running out 12-28 winners in their first pre-season friendly against Doncaster at the Eco-Power Stadium.

Despite their Betfred League One opponents taking in a four-point lead at the break, four tries in 12 minutes helped York on their way to scoring 20 unanswered points in a second half in which the Doncaster floodgates well and truly opened.

The win will provide supporters with optimism at Henderson’s new-look side, with debutants Conor Fitzsimmons and Josh Daley both crossing over the line for York after joining during the off-season from Workington and the Mounties respectively.

Fellow new recruit Jon Luke Kirby was handed his first start for the club, while Harry Price and trialist Ben Pickles were also given run-out’s from the bench.

Henderson admitted that he wanted to give his side their first run out against a higher-ranked Betfred League One side, and in Doncaster, they found worthy opponents that did not give up without a fight.

However, the real test will be next weekend, with York hosting Betfred Championship heavyweights Batley at the LNER Community Stadium on Sunday, 22 January (3pm).

York were much fancied for today’s friendly, and they showed their quality from the very first minute.

Pushing towards the Doncaster line from the off, the impressive Ata Hingano played a lovely chip towards AJ Towse, but he was adjudged to have knocked on.

The early pressure would pay off for Henderson’s side, with long-serving full-back Matty Marsh bursting through a gap in the Dons defence to run the afternoon’s first try over in the corner with a brilliant solo effort.

James Glover’s conversion cannoned off the post, marking the first of four missed kicks for the Knights on a disappointing afternoon from the tee.

York found penalties regularly coming their way but were met with a resolute Doncaster defence that denied both debutant Fitzsimmons and Will Jubb in quick succession on the 15-minute mark.

But Henderson’s side deservedly doubled their lead midway through the half, Hingaro powering over from close range to give his side an 0-8 lead, with Glover again failing to convert.

York’s misfiring would come back to bite them, with two Doncaster tries seeing them take a narrow four-point lead into the interval.

First, Sam Smeaton touched down after carving through the Knights defence, before Tom Halliday found space down the right wing to ground Dave Peterson’s enticing pass.

Connor Robinson proved much more accurate than his counterpart with the boot, converting both scores to give his side a 12-8 lead at half time.

The Dons picked up where they left off after the break, with Halliday again looking lively down the right wing, but the York defence stood firm.

The visitors soon turned the screw, showing glimpses of the flair and creativity that fans can expect under Henderson.

Jordan Thompson thought that he had put his side on level terms after claiming a sublime flicked pass, but the hosts did just enough to push him into touch as he crossed the line.

It was instead Fitzsimmons who next forced his way over the line for a try on debut, showing fantastic strength to muscle through the Dons defence to bring his side level.

This time it was Liam Harris who missed with the boot.

That try opened the floodgates for Doncaster, who were undone another three times by a rampant York in the 12 minutes that followed.

Hingano’s perfectly-weighted kick was missed by the Dons defence, allowing Marsh to touch down the loose ball for his second of the match with 20 minutes to go, before he set up Daley with a teasing flicked pass to open his York account.

Glover rounded off the scoring for the visitors just four minutes later, with Harris’ high kick causing havoc in the Dons defence and leaving him with the simplest of finishes in the corner.

Doncaster did have one last foray forward but were stopped 10 short of the line on their last tackle, in what was ultimately a comfortable victory that the Knights can learn a lot from ahead of Sunday’s friendly at home to Batley Bulldogs (3pm).

DONCASTER RLFC: Hall, Halliday, Sanderson, Tali, Corion, Johnston, Robinson, Foster, Burns, James, Ollett-Hobson, Smeaton, McConnell.

INTERCHANGES: Knowles, Whitmore, Holdstock, Roberts, Taulapapa, Kenga, Petersen, Hey.

YORK KNIGHTS: Marsh, Brown, Glover, Harrison, Towse, Hingano, Harris, Kirby, Jubb, Fitzsimmons, Kirmond, Thompson, Antrobus.

INTERCHANGES: Michael, Daley, Teanby, Barnard, Price, Pickles (Trialist).

Points sequence: 0-4, 0-8, 4-8, 6-8, 10-8, 12-8, 12-12, 12-16, 12-18, 12-22, 12-24, 12-28,

Doncaster tries: Smeaton (29), Halliday (36)

Doncaster conversions: 2/2

York tries: Marsh (9,60) Hingano (27), Fitzsimmons (55), Daley (63), Glover (67)

York conversions: 2/6