YORK City Knights boss James Ford has hailed 'State of Yorigin II' as a quality event for rugby league in York.

The East v West challenge match between amateur players from either side of the River Ouse ended 26-24 to the West side, backing up their 22-20 victory in the inaugural clash last Christmas.

That event, set up in memory of the late York rugby league official, administrator and historian Stuart Evans, drew a four-figure crowd to the neutral venue of York RUFC's Clifton Park. There were a few hundred at this one, with the match this time also being part of the selection process for the rejuvenated York & District ARL representative team, who will take on Ford's League One pro outfit in a pre-season fixture at Christmas.

Said Ford: "I was impressed with the standard and the quality of the event.

"It's pleasing to see rugby league progressing so positively here."

Ford offered York Acorn's Joe Porter a pro contract following his display for the West in last year's challenge match, and the back-rower went on to play in 17 of the Knights' 27 fixtures this year.

Among the players to impress this time were Heworth half-back Liam Jackson and All Blacks' Bobby Smith for the East team, and Acorn's Matty Downes - the youngster who had a trial with the Knights last winter - and veteran Tom Hill for the West.

Tyler Craig, the former Knights centre who is believed to be in talks with League One rivals Newcastle Thunder about renewing his deal on Tyneside, also stood out for the East.

Said Ford: "There were a number of good individual performances and several players further enhanced their reputations.

"I'm looking forward to our friendly game which I'm very confident will be keenly contested."

* See tomorrow's Press for a full report and pictures