WILL the real York City Knights please stand up.

Preferably not the team that travelled to Gloucestershire and threw away a 16-0 lead to lose for the third time this Championship One season. But rather the team that overcame injuries aplenty to win 42-16 against a Gateshead side who went into today’s game at Huntington Stadium possibly as marginal favourites given the resources now at their disposal.

Not only have their dual-registration link-up with Super League outfit Hull KR and takeover by rugby union big-guns Newcastle Falcons brought additional squad strength and better facilities but there is talk of financial clout, too, with rumours the visitors were on £500 a man to win this game - which might seem unlikely but hints at sights being re-set on promotion.

The result, though, suggests York - notwithstanding last week's reverse - still have it in them to see off anybody in this division, assuming they play at their pace with their brand of exciting rugby, even with key men missing.

More than half a first-choice side were absent today, with dual-reg full-back Ben Reynolds' call-up to Castleford's first team adding to the injury list.

But the trio who returned - James Haynes, taking back his number one berth, Benn Hardcastle, coming in for Jonny Presley at half-back, and, most eye-catchingly, Iain Morrison as impact prop - all made telling contributions in one of the most well-rounded, clinical performances of the league campaign, perhaps second only to the 40-0 thrashing of leaders Hunslet.

Central to victory was the pack.

Austin Bell and big bulldozing Brad Brennan started it off up top and Joe Pickets and Morrison carried it on in their respective inimitable styles.

Morrison in particular was a welcome return to the line-up after ten weeks out. Shorn of his distinctive blond locks, he showed he was no Samsom as, with or without the ball, he smashed into/through/over opponents in that crowd-pleasing way of his as if he’d never been away.

It also seemed to inspire Brennan to do likewise - how York must endeavour to keep their on-loan Batley forward.

It wasn’t just about the props, though. Ryan Mallinder and Colton Roche were a constant driving force in the second row, as was Ed Smith, having shifted out to centre to cover injuries in the back line. There was no let-up when Ryan Backhouse entered the fray either.

Then there was Mr Duracell, Jack Aldous, at loose-forward, a non-stop hive of activity over the 80 minutes.

Behind it all, Hardcastle gave a much more polished performance than in his last outing – not only with his 100 per cent goalkicking record but his general match-play.

The backs, too, were clinical, as the Knights bagged seven tries to Thunder’s three, keeping a clean sheet in a splendid second-half show having gone in 18-16 ahead.

Gateshead had had to change their line-up an hour before kick-off when it became apparent they had more than the permitted five borrowed players.

Super League regular Kris Welham, a surprise debutant, added to fellow dual-reg men Matty Beharrell, Sonny Esslemont and Omari Caro, plus Louis Sheriff and Joel Farrell, both on loan from Dewsbury, to make six.

Winger Caro was the one to miss the cut. Ironically, however, it was his replacement, Jacob Blades, who opened the scoring – in controversial fashion.

A knock-on was deemed to go backwards by referee Adam Gill and, while the crowd were still booing, Blades seemed to knock-on then kick forward the loose ball, with Gill signalling it had come off only his boot, allowing him to touch down. Beharrell converted.

Bell struck back, powering in through Welham’s attempted tackle, after backing up Jack Lee’s scoot at dummy-half.

However, Smith, marring an otherwise strong display, could not control a difficult restart and, following Thunder’s scrum, Esslement found a gap down the inside right.

The visitors went close again in that same channel, but a penalty at the other end gave York the chance to respond again, and they did, through second-row Roche, showing strength to touch down.

Roche was instrumental in York going ahead, too, driving close to give top-scorer Jack Lee the chance to score his trademark close-range try.

But Gateshead cut the half-time deficit to 18-16 as full-back Sheriff slipped a lovely pass for skipper Jason Payne, Championship One’s top-scorer, to add to his tally.

The try followed a penalty awarded to the visitors after a stand-up fight in back play between Welham and - guess who - hard man Pickets.

The second half belonged to York, though, as driving runs - Morrison setting the tone from the kick-off - and mean defence knocked Gateshead out of shape and rhythm and brought four unanswered tries.

Tyler Craig, due to injuries keeping his place at centre and improving because of it, got a deserved first try for the club, going himself after York had kept the ball alive well once a Hardcastle kick had ricocheted their way.

Haynes' dart and smart pass from dummy-half sent Aldous in, Smith raced onto Hardcastle's pin-point grubber, and Pickets sealed a fine victory when driving over with men on his back.

Match facts

Knights: Haynes 8; Saltonstall 8, Craig 8, E Smith 8, B Dent 7; P Smith 7, Hardcastle 8; Brennan 9, Lee 8, Bell 8, Mallinder 8, Roche 8, Aldous 9. Subs (all used): Carter 8, Pickets 8, Backhouse 8, Morrison 9.

Tries: Bell 14; Roche 22; Lee 32; Craig 47; Aldous 52; E Smith 59; Pickets 77.

Conversions: Hardcastle 14, 22, 32, 47, 52, 59, 77.

Penalties: none Sin-binned: none.

Sent off: none.

Gateshead: Sheriff; Mapals, Brown, Welham, Blades; Beharrell, Rooney; Barron, Stamp, Hough, Payne, Farrell, Esslemont. Subs (all used): Stoker, Fewlass, Heil, Bowering.

Tries: Blades 5; Esslemont 16; Payne 40.

Conversions: Beharrell 5, 16.

Sin-binned: none.

Sent off: none.

Man of the match: Jack Aldous was the sponsors' man of the match after a superb 80-minute show, but Iain Morrison gets the nod here, ahead of Aldous and Brad Brennan, after a crowd-pleasing hard-hitting, wham, bam, slam show on his return from a ten-week absence.

Referee: Adam Gill (Widnes) – as usual a plethora of perplexing decisions.

Penalties: 8-7 Half-time: 18-16 Attendance: 495 Weather: okay.

Moment of the match: former Heworth ARLC junior Tyler Craig's first try for the club. He had one chance to score in the game and took it, having the confidence to ignore his winger and go himself to bag the crucial first touchdown of the second half.

Gaffe of the match: yet more officiating inconsistencies. Last week, Austin Bell gets a straight red card off for being one of three people to strike out in a little scrap. This week, Joe Pickets and Kris Welham have a stand-up fight 20 metres away from the ball and neither get a card nor is the incident put on report.

Gamebreaker: Ed Smith’s try just before the hour mark to make it 36-16 made it clear there would be no comeback from the visitors.

Match rating: after a compelling even first half, York turned it up and turned the screw in a splendid second half show that cheered the home faithful.