ANDREW Henderson credited York Knights’ dominant first half as they left themselves one win from Wembley with a 46-12 triumph over Oldham in their AB Sundecks 1895 Cup quarter final.

Doubles from Will Dagger and Richie Myler – making his 400th career appearance – contributed the majority of the Knights’ 34-6 lead at the interval, with the former also on target from all but one of his attempts from the tee.

But though errors crept into both sides’ games after the interval, further tries from prop Conor Fitzsimmons and winger AJ Towse sealed a comfortable victory for Henderson’s side against their Betfred League One opponents.

Only Sheffield Eagles now stand between the Knights and Wembley, with the sides facing off in a repeat of last weekend’s Betfred Challenge Cup clash on the weekend of May 11-12.


Set to lose Dagger, Jordan Thompson and Jesse Dee for their Betfred Championship opener at Doncaster in a fortnight’s time after their ill-discipline against the Eagles, Henderson was rewarded in his calls for a controlled and patient performance against Oldham.

“Obviously the reality is that you just need to win the game when it comes to knockout rugby league,” he explained.

“If it’s ugly, it’s ugly, if it’s pretty, it’s pretty, it doesn’t really matter. You’ve just got to get yourself into the next round of the competition.

“I think that the most pleasing thing for me was the way that we started the game. We’ve spoke all week about focusing on the start of the game, focusing on an improved performance and a performance that showed a lot more composure, patience and discipline.

“That’s what I was looking for today and I think that the boys showed that in abundance in the first half.”

York Press: Half-backs Liam Harris and Richie Myler were both on the scoresheet for the Knights.Half-backs Liam Harris and Richie Myler were both on the scoresheet for the Knights. (Image: Craig Hawkhead)

Henderson’s side showed their intent from the outset, with Myles Harrison opening the scoring with just five minutes on the clock after a neat move on the right edge.

And the Knights were three tries in front just after the quarter-hour, with captain Liam Harris ghosting through the Oldham defensive line before Dagger finished off a silky move into the left corner.

Having played with 11 men at times in their Challenge Cup exit seven days prior, Henderson was delighted by the way that his side were able to pin Oldham back within their own half for large parts of the match.

“Defensively, we were great,” he enthused. “I thought what we did with the ball was very smart, we were patient, our discipline was miles better and we deserved to be where we were because our ball control was outstanding.

“We kept turning the sets over in the right areas of the field, we really front-loaded our energy defensively and really restricted Oldham’s go-forward so they were always kicking deep in their own half.

“Because we stuck with that mentality and process, we managed then to get the points off the back of it because we earned the field position, we earned the possession and we earned the right to play the ball.

“I thought we scored some wonderful tries as well, there was some smart play. It was good to see the halves playing with some freedom and executing some really good play, but also the middle unit boys interlocking and interchanging well together. I was really pleased.”

Whilst the Knights had seemingly had everything their own way during the first half, both sides struggled to gain a foothold after the interval, with a miscommunication between Dagger and Towse from the kick-off typifying a scrappy and error-strewn 40 minutes.

And Henderson admits that with confidence flowing through his side, they were perhaps guilty of overplaying at times.

“It was a fantastic first half, and obviously the second half was a total contrast. As we know, the result finishes 12-6.

“At half time we’re 34-6 up and the second half ends up being 12-6 but ultimately, that was probably our own doing. We came out and probably fell into that trap.

“What we addressed at half time was that we just stick to what we’re doing, we don’t need to go away from what we’re doing. We probably fell into that trap of maybe overplaying, almost like we were chasing the game a bit, and we didn’t need to do that.

“We would have probably got a few more points, but you learn those lessons from today. But I’m overall pleased with the fact that we’re in the next round of the competition and very pleased that we responded in the right fashion.”