IT might be a bit late but the Press Player of the Month for June has been decided - second-row Joe Batchelor getting the nod.

Batchelor, the off-season recruit from relative minnows Coventry Bears, has not seemed in the slightest out of place in the Minster city, indeed nailing down a back-row berth alongside skipper Ed Smith.

His form hit heights last month, capped with four tries in as many matches.

Head coach James Ford said: "I'm really pleased for Joe. He's put a lot of hard work in all year and it's pleasing to see a player get acknowledged for his performances on the back of hard work.

"There's still room for improvement in his game but, with his approach, I'm very confident we will see him improve for the remainder of the season."

Ford said the second-row spot alongside Smith had been up for grabs as the season started. But he added: "I knew Joe was a good player and that he had a great attitude, and he was coming to an environment that could see him kick on - and he's done that."

The Player of the Month accolade sees Batchelor get three bonus points for his Press Player of the Year tally - lifting him into the reckoning for the prestigious end-of-year crown.

It has got closer at the top, too, after the last two games, with dual-reg half-back Liam Harris' man-of-the-match award in the big win over Hemel - when he set the ball rolling with four tries - giving him three points and seeing him move to within two of leader Ash Robson.

New half-back partner Connor Robinson (2pts) also had a field day that day and gets onto the leaderboard, while winger Dee Foggin-Johnston got his second hat-trick (four tries in fact) in as many games (1pt).

James Haynes' hat-trick efforts last week saw him get top marks against Workington (3pts), followed by in-form hooker dual-reg Will Jubb (2pts) and prop Adam Robinson (1pt).

The Press Player of the Year standings: Robson 15, Spears 14, Harris 13, E Smith 11, Batchelor 11, A Robinson 9, Foggin-Johnston 7, Porter 6, Siddons 6, Haynes 5, Carter 5, Rawsthorne 4, Jubb 4, Hey 3, H Tyson-Wilson 3, Moran 3, Saxton 2, C Robinson 2, Ellis 1, Presley 1, B Tyson-Wilson 1.

THE Knights' ongoing work in the community was there for all to see ahead of the match against Workington.

Fifty local primary school children played in front of a big Bootham Crescent crowd in the culmination of the Knights Foundation's city-wide festival backed by the Rugby Football League' Sky Try programme.

In total, 10 teams from five schools - Hempland Primary, Tang Hall, St Mary’s, St Wilfrid’s and Clifton Green - took to the pitch before staying to watch the Knights’ big win which sealed fourth spot ahead of the Super 8s.

The free-of-charge Sky Try programme has seen the Foundation coach more than 4,000 children in schools and provide opportunities to take part in rugby league festivals.

Adam Prentis, the Foundation delivery manager, said of the finals day: “Our aim was to offer a minimum of 35 minutes playing time per child, which is something we not only achieved but exceeded.

"We are keen on having all children playing, and avoid having substitutes. Schools were asked if they would like to bring more than one team which was well received.”

He added: “Putting this event on at Bootham Crescent was not only something new for us, but a great experience for all of the children that attended.

“We are keen to make match-days a family day out. It was great to see the kids getting involved with activities including being mascots, guards of honour, the inflatable skill zone, meeting Norris the Knight and then coming back on the pitch at half-time to play in front of a crowd of over 1,000 people."

Aimee Wilkinson, a teacher at Hempland Primary, said: “We had a Year 3 and a Year 4 team here, and they all really enjoyed the day. Five of them play rugby league outside of school and they loved playing in a proper stadium, in front of lots of fans and seeing the Knights players around the ground.

“We have a tag rugby club at school and play it in PE, but this was great for the kids to play against new teams and make new friends.”

THE Knights Foundation has received another boost after being provided with a specially designed van thanks to a new partnership with Y3 Group and Clapham Commercials.

The deal is for six months with a view to extending it.

Y3 Group and Clapham Commercials specialise in vehicle hire, leasing, remarketing and car and van transportation.

Neil Gulliver, Knights foundation manager, said: “We are proud to have Y3 Hire as one of our community partners and are grateful for their support.

“This will allow us to continue to expand our work in the community over the busy summer months where we engage with thousands of children, young people and adults across York and North Yorkshire."

Kirstie Shipley, new business and leasing manager at Y3 Group, said: "It is important to support sport in the city because it brings a sense of community and makes us proud of our local sport teams."

The Clapham name is synonymous with York Acorn. Gary Clapham helped build their clubhouse while Edward - one of the directors at Clapham Commercials - played for the amateur side.

Shipley added of the partnership: "It means we can support local sport, and also gives us brand awareness and shows that as a business we are willing to go the extra mile to support our city.

"I think it's important the Knights do well, especially for the younger generation that aspire to be rugby players. It also brings the city together and makes us all proud to be from York."