MARK Applegarth was left delighted by York Knights' defence as his tenure began with a 40-0 thrashing of Dewsbury Rams at the FLAIR Stadium.

Doubles from winger Joe Brown and half-back Ata Hingano headed an eight-try rout of the Betfred Championship’s last-placed side on a memorable afternoon in West Yorkshire, with Brad Ward, Jimmy Keinhorst, Jordan Thompson and Ukuma Ta’ai also getting in on the action.

Whilst the Knights were able to carve open Dewsbury at will with their attack, it was at the other end of the pitch with which Applegarth was most impressed.

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Despite having afforded the Rams a number of attacking opportunities inside their 20-metre line, their hosts showed just why they have gone two and a half matches without adding a single point to the scoreboard with handling errors aplenty as they found no way through.

Nonetheless, a first clean sheet of the season is a real cause for delight, for Applegarth has made his defensive-minded intentions clear since his arrival.

However, he insisted his side cannot take anything for granted from this afternoon’s match ahead of a tough test at 2023 League Leaders’ Shield winners Featherstone Rovers on Sunday.

“I was really happy with that,” he enthused. “The most pleasing thing to be honest is keeping that zero.

“We spoke about it at half time, how we’d only done half a job, and wanted to work on being ruthless as a team, so how we went about our business in the second half, I thought we were excellent.

“I was really happy with how we started the game. I thought that the middle-unit inside press and contacts were really good, and we took our opportunities when they were presented.

“I’m really happy overall, but we’re under no illusions – it’s going to be a lot tougher next week against Featherstone.”

The Knights' defence held firm to keep a first clean sheet of the season.The Knights' defence held firm to keep a first clean sheet of the season. (Image: Craig Hawkhead Photography)

Having led by a comfortable 18 points at the break, the Knights quickly put paid to any hopes of a Dewsbury second-half comeback, with Keinhorst somehow managing to ground after Hingano’s chip to the left corner had caused havoc amongst the home defence.

“We knew they were going to come out fighting,” Applegarth continued. “At the end of the day, they’re fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table too.

“We didn’t want to get dragged into 40 minutes that were really nip and tuck, so we spoke about just going out there, completing some sets, just doing what we did in the first half and earning the right to play.

“We got a bit lucky that we got an opportunity straight away, and that settled us down.

“But the most pleasing thing is that the defence stayed connected throughout the 80 minutes and kept the zero.”