YORK City Knights notched a morale-boosting win in their final pre-season outing prior to their return to the Championship – dismissing Dewsbury Rams with a 34-0 victory at Bootham Crescent.

The League One champions scored three tries in the first half and four in the second - some of them crackers - and, perhaps most pleasingly, kept the Rams to zero throughout.

However, head coach James Ford was far from getting carried away, especially given the visitors were missing a number of first-teamers.

The challenge to be posed next time out – by full-timers and title favourites Toronto Wolfpack in the opening game of the season on February 3 – will be a far cry from this one.

As Ford noted, there is still much to be done in the six training sessions between now and then. That said, his charges are clearly moving in the right direction in terms of performance across their two victories and two defeats in pre-season.

Things are also getting better in the treatment room, even though skipper Tim Spears and Sam Scott – two big players in the pack – will almost certainly miss the start of term.

Ronan Dixon and Joe Porter were back on the bench for this game after injury, while Harry Carter and Jack Blagbrough will be back in full training this week. Ford, having had only 18 fit players for last weekend’s narrow loss at Batley, was back up to 20 for this one, going with seven replacements as is permitted for these games.

Notable new signing Kriss Brining, whose arrival was announced a few hours before kick-off, watched the game from the stands.

Dewsbury ran with a 17-man squad – with ex-Knights Simon Brown and Matty Nicholson, former Super League veteran Paul Sykes and star hooker Robbie Ward among the big players missing. They also lost Charlie Martin to a bloody nose in the first half so had only 16 for an hour or so.

York had a great chance for an early score as centre Brad Hey was put into space but he dallied just a tad and the cover shoved him into touch by the flag.

They then did cross on nine minutes as Will Jubb’s flat pass put Jack Teanby over from close-range - but, to the spectators’ bemusement, the try was ruled out, presumably for the forward pass.

Dewsbury had a brief spell of pressure on the back of a penalty – Perry Whiteley coming close to an interception amid it all – but York were the better team for the opening quarter and they went ahead on 24 minutes thanks to a bit of magic from Matty Marsh.

The classy full-back broke through on the inside then fired a scoring pass out of the tackle, seemingly blind and from some distance, straight to the onrushing Dave Petersen.

Connor Robinson added the extras, although he missed four of seven conversions on the night, some disappointingly given his record-breaking goal-kicking standards last season.

Conversely, a piece of footballing brilliance from Ash Robson helped to extend the lead.

Ben Cockayne had kicked in behind and the winger not only won the race but somehow kept the ball in play with his feet, knocking it goalward before picking up and touching down.

York’s third try, just before the interval, came on the counter-attack instigated by Hey’s run out of defence.

After a superb drive by second-row Liam Salter, hooker Jubb fed Marcus Stock, who fended off the cover with aplomb before scoring to make it 14-0.

Former England Students international Stock, the winter arrival from minnows Hemel, had the tough job of filling Spears’ boots at loose-forward but made a decent fist of it.

That lead increased 10 minutes in the second period as Hey’s superb offload sent winger Judah Mazive - on for the impressive Whiteley - flying down the left flank and his inside pass put Marsh sprinting home.

The speed and accuracy of York’s attacking was too much for a sluggish Dewsbury and, after a stoppage for a minor melee in back play, the lead extended as Mazive finished another swift incursion really well in the left corner.

There were a few too many dropped balls but York continued to threaten, the lead moving out to 30-0 when Cockayne skipped past his man and sent in Reece Rushworth - the York Acorn ARLC youngster capping his pre-season trial at the Knights with a try.

Robson, having switched to full-back, then got in on the act again, the former Acorn junior injecting pace, sidestepping three men, and showing the Rams’ tackling to be pretty sloppy, as he reached the whitewash.

Knights: Marsh, Robson, Bass, Hey, Whiteley, Cockayne, Robinson, Horne, Jubb, Teanby, Kelly, Salter, Stock. Subs (all used): Petersen, Dixon, Jordan-Roberts, Porter, Mazive, Brown, Rushworth.

Tries: Petersen 24; Robson 33, 74; Stock 39; Marsh 50; Mazive 60; Rushworth 68.

Goals Robinson 24, 50, 68 (3/7).

Dewsbury: Gabriel, Worrincy, J Richardson, King, Halliday, Thomas, Heckford, Sheriffe, Mackay, T Richardson, Martin, Igbinedion, Trout. Subs (all used): Day, Walshaw, Ray, Garratt.

Referee: John McMullen.

Penalty count: York 8 Dewsbury 4.