Barrow Raiders 16 York City Knights 24

IN-FORM York City Knights stretched their unbeaten run to seven games in the Betfred Championship with a 24-16 win at Barrow Raiders.

The Knights built up a healthy 18-4 half-time lead, but relegation-threatened Barrow staged a spirited fightback after the break.

However, York held off the Raiders to maintain their grip on second place in the table ahead of next weekend's tough trip to table-topping Toronto Wolfpack.

The defeat for Raiders, meanwhile, leaves the Craven Park side needing miracles in their fight against the drop.

The hosts made most of the running in the second half, with a combination of some bad breaks and bad decision-making preventing them from pulling off a dramatic turnaround.

Ultimately, though, the real difference in this match was an exceptional performance from York full-back Matty Marsh, who scored a first-half hat-trick and was a constant menace with the ball.

The visitors got off to the best possible start, as they opening the scoring with less than four minutes gone when Will Oakes slipped through some flimsy tackling before timing his pass to send Marsh in under the posts.

The pitch, slickened by a pre-match downpour, was causing a few players to slip from both sides, but Barrow managed to regain their composure and hit back in the 13th minute.

Off the final tackle, Ben White chipped the ball towards the left wing, where Tee Ritson got there ahead of the Knights’ Liam Harris to dot it down, although Ryan Johnston’s missed conversion meant the Raiders still trailed 6-4.

The Knights then punished the hosts for a sloppy mistake inside their own half.

Following a knock-on, the ball was quickly worked left from the scrum to allow Marsh to pick through a gap and score his second try, which Connor Robinson converted.

Another Barrow error, this time leading to a penalty, eventually led to Oakes taking the ball in space before putting Marsh over for his hat-trick in the 32nd minute.

The hosts had a mountain climb in the second half from 18-4 down and they nearly fell further behind three minutes after the restart when Mike Kelly knocked on in stretching for the line.

Barrow then had a try ruled out but they couldn’t really complain, as Jono Smith’s long pass to the left for Ritson did travel forward.

Another chance for the home side then went begging as Liam Paisley couldn’t take Luke Cresswell’s pass with Deon Cross overlapping to his right.

The Raiders had another score disallowed for a forward pass, this time for Cross’ inventive off-load for Paisley.

In contrast, the Knights had their fourth try a minute later, with only a fantastic tackle from Ritson preventing Marsh from scoring it himself, but with the defence scattered, Jason Bass crashed over.

Barrow did finally pull a try back on the hour mark when Jake Carter moved the ball on to Cresswell, who evaded the tacklers to score down the left, with Johnston adding the goal.

The hosts continued what was a spirited second half showing when Smith powered over after Tom Walker had been stopped just short and Carter’s gap reduced the gap to eight points.

However, York regained their composure and, with eight minutes left, the Raiders comeback had come too late.

Barrow Raiders: Cresswell, Cross, Hulme, Stack, Ritson, White, Johnston, Walker, Puara, Susino, Smith, Paisley, Walne.

Interchange: J Carter, Duffy, Aspinwall, Séguier.

Tries: Ritson 13, Cresswell 60, Smith 72.

Goals: Johnston, J Carter.

York City Knights: Marsh, Bass, Hey, C Scott, W Oakes, Harris, Robinson, Teanby, Jubb, Blagbrough, Kelly, Salter, Spears.

Interchange: Brining, Baldwinson, Dixon, Stock.

Tries: Marsh 4, 24, 32, Bass 57.

Goals: Robinson (4).

Referee: Jack Smith.

Attendance: 1,169.