AFTER the dramas of last season, both coaches had predicted another nail-biter between Bradford Bulls and York City Knights. They were both right – but it was only Knights boss James Ford who was smiling at the end.


Last year’s two League One meetings were separated by only two points – Bradford winning at Bootham Crescent with a penalty after the hooter and York gaining revenge at Odsal as Dane Chisholm missed a late conversion which would have levelled the scores.

This one wasn’t as close on the scoreboard, at 24-14, but it was again in the balance until the final moments. Indeed, Bradford were on top for much of it. But it was York who came out victorious.


The Knights, of course, had gone on to take the crown last year after a memorable bite-your-nails run-in – something Bradford, the huge title favourites, have not forgotten. If they had, York’s fans made sure to remind them.

This was another day to remember for those supporters - their team sitting third in the Championship.

The Bulls had looked sure to go on and win after taking a 14-12 lead with a roll-on. But this York side, while not at their shimmering best, once again found a way to come through - Jack Teanby blasting over against the run of play to regain the lead and Matty Marsh sealing victory late on.

Head coach James Ford had made two changes to the side that walloped Barrow last week.

Brad Hey replaced Josh Jordan-Roberts in the second row, even though the latter had passed fit, while Marcus Stock replaced Jack Blagbrough as interchange middle, Blagbrough having been one of the less good performers last week.

Bradford made four changes in personnel to the side that lost at Sheffield, with Dane Chisholm back at scrum-half for young Rowan Milnes, former Kiwi star Jake Webster returning to the back line in place of Ross Oakes, and Sam Hallas and Matty Storton replacing Jon Magrin and the suspended James Green in the pack ranks.

Bradford went close right from the off.

They surprised everyone with a short kick-off, won the ball, pressed, and, with space out wide, were only denied as Ash Robson clattered into Ethan Ryan by the flag.

Bulls fans were celebrating prematurely again just minutes later as Webster broke 60 metres and had a simple scoring pass to Jy Hitchcox – only to throw the ball forward to the floor.

Instead, York went ahead in the eighth minute.

Joe Batchelor broke through and, while he was halted by full-back Brandon Pickersgill, Connor Robinson kicked to the far right corner where Robson and Bass, with a brilliant basketball pass, combined for the former to touch down.

York had to do it tough when Judah Mazive got in the way of a 20-metre restart after Pickersgill had – just - shepherded a Robinson kick dead. The winger received the mandatory yellow card.

The 12 men increased their lead though after Liam Salter made ground from a loose pass close to his own posts and York received a penalty for holding down – Robinson adding the two points, running down the 10 minutes too.

Indeed York played out the sin-binning well, both Robinson and Ben Cockayne finding touch on either side to eat up the clock with scrums.

York, aided by trademark scrambling defence, duly survived their spell a man down, but just before Mazive returned, fellow winger Robson departed injured – a huge blow given his excellent form.

It was end to end stuff – Mazive’s next involvement being to chip and chase and force a dropout.

Cockayne led the next attack brilliantly. A high tackle on Batchelor followed but this time Robinson missed the shot at goal.

Again Bradford sought a riposte. Again York stood firm, a thumping tackle by Liam Salter amongst it.

Again York struck.

Robinson went for touch with his next penalty, won by Salter, and it paid off as, from the scrum-half’s grubber, Mazive was deemed to have won the race for the touchdown. Home fans weren’t happy with the decision but Robinson converted to make it 12-0.

Bradford this time struck back – a penalty gave them field position and, from a long pass, Ryan dived spectacularly into the corner.

York had led 24-0 in the corresponding fixture last season before conceding just before the break and being made to hold on in the second half. This was pretty similar.

Bradford again went close on the resumption after Bass, hitherto excellent and now on the wing following Robson’s departure, erred under a kick.

Then they did score, Ryan touching down again this time from a brilliant backhanded pass by ex-Knight Matt Garside.

The Bulls had the momentum, aided by penalties.

After brief respite, they took the lead with a fine 55th-minute try down the left finished by Pickersgill and converted by Chisholm.

However, York had a half-chance on the hour after getting a rare second-half platform.

And while they missed that one – they at times looked scratchy in possession - they scored the next.

Teanby ran over people to get them close then with his second hit-up crashed over from close-range under the sticks, Robinson converting.

The restart bounced out, giving the Bulls an attacking scrum, and they piled on the pressure.

Sub Olsi Krasniqi drove close, but was held upright and driven over the dead-ball line.

Back-to-back penalties had Bradford back in the red zone, but they were again denied. Marsh conceded a dropout after fielding an excellent kick, but they again were denied.

Another penalty followed as Batchelor dragged back Jordan Lilley off the ball after a chip and chase. But again the hosts were denied.

Instead, York sealed victory with a cracker. Graeme Horne took the ball off Cockayne on the underlap and good hands gave Marsh a half-chance – which he took to spark mad celebrations.

There was still time for more hearts in mouths as Bradford won the ball back on the short restart and Hitchcox dived into the corner but the try was ruled out.

It wasn't Bradford's day. It was York's.