YORK Knights’ four-match winning streak came to an end following a 14-18 defeat to Betfred Championship promotion-chasers Toulouse Olympique at the LNER Community Stadium this evening.

It proved to be a match of two halves from the Knights, who were much improved after the interval but could not find quite enough to see themselves across the line against their full-time opponents in what was another encouraging performance from Andrew Henderson’s side.

The majority of the damage had been done during the first half, in which some poor try-line defence saw both Guy Armitage and Greg Richards cross the whitewash with ease, as the visitors took in an eight-point advantage at the interval.

But an early score from Sheffield Eagles loanee Jason Bass gave the Knights a renewed vigour after the break, momentum they carried with them until Anthony Marion delivered the sucker punch with 10 minutes remaining with what proved to be the winning try.

Nonetheless, to go toe to toe with the division’s second-placed side, and the only one to inflict defeat upon runaway leaders Featherstone Rovers, has only served to highlight the Knights’ improvement over recent weeks.

RECAP: York Knights 14-18 Toulouse Olympique

Having lost both captain Chris Clarkson and versatile hooker James Cunningham to a rib cartilage injury and Head Injury Assessment protocols respectively during last Sunday’s victory at London Broncos, Henderson’s side were dealt further blows this evening, with experienced prop Ukuma Ta’ai suffering a knee injury during the first half, and AJ Towse withdrawn with a head knock as the game neared its conclusion.

Henderson made two changes to his starting line-up for tonight’s encounter, with Will Jubb replacing Cunningham at hooker and Wakefield Trinity loanee Oli Pratt making his first appearance since July 2 in place of Clarkson in the centres.

Homegrown talent Toby Warren, who returned to the Knights on loan from Betfred Super League heavyweights Leeds Rhinos earlier this week, was named on the bench, and did not look out of place after being introduced with 20 minutes remaining.

Sylvian Houles also made changes to the Toulouse side that thrashed Keighley 64-0 last weekend as forwards Dimitri Biscarro and Dominique Peyroux returned, though the French outfit lost prop Lambert Belmas to injury during the warm-up.

Henderson delighted as young forward Field keeps getting 'better and better' at Knights

The Knights made a bright start to cancel out their opponents in the game’s early tackle sets, with young winger Towse excellently fielding Jake Shorrocks’ dangerous grubber into touch 10 metres from his line.

But as the rain began to fall, Toulouse profited from some sloppy try-line defence from the Knights, Armitage proving too strong for both Liam Harris and Joe Brown to surge across into the left corner to open the scoring with a quarter of an hour played.

Shorrocks added the extras from the left touchline with ease with the first of three successful conversions.

York came within a whisker of an immediate response from the kick-off after forcing former Wigan Warriors loose forward Harrison Hansen into a knock-on 30 metres from his line, but Bass was stopped just short as he collected Brown’s neat shift.

The Knights lost Ta’ai two minutes later to a knee injury but continued to threaten, playing the worsening downpours far better then their opponents as Peyroux let the ball slip through his grasp, before York were awarded successive penalties inside the attacking half for a knock-on, and then offside.

And York made their opponents pay, Bass collecting a sublime pass from Brown and fending off two Toulouse defenders to crash over into the right corner, but Harris could only drag his conversion across the posts.

York Press: Jason Bass batted the ball into the air as he celebrated scoring York's opening try.Jason Bass batted the ball into the air as he celebrated scoring York's opening try. (Image: Craig Hawkhead)

However, Toulouse hit back from a penalty of their own after a high tackle six minutes later, Eloi Pelissier offloading to Hull KR loanee Richards, who powered across the whitewash with ease, Shorrocks extending his side’s advantage to eight points at the break.

The visitors looked to have picked up where they had left off in the second half as the Knights were penalised for holding, but Ramon Nunes Silva knocked-on inches from the line.

Instead, that served to kick the hosts into gear, Bass completing his brace three minutes into the half after reacting quickest to Harris’ grubber after the French outfit had been penalised for holding on Towse.

And York had a fantastic opportunity to bring themselves back onto level terms when Harris’ penalty from a strike on Brown found touch on the Toulouse 10-metre line, but Jack Teanby made an error at the play of the ball.

The Knights continued their plight, taking the lead with 57 minutes played when Harris broke through the defensive line before offloading to Italian international Brenden Santi, who raced beneath the posts to mark his birthday with a try, the half-back then firing his side into a 14-12 lead.

York Press: Italian prop Brenden Santi marked his birthday with a try after collecting Liam Harris' short pass.Italian prop Brenden Santi marked his birthday with a try after collecting Liam Harris' short pass. (Image: Craig Hawkhead)

Warren was introduced in place of veteran second-rower Danny Kirmond on the hour mark, slotting in alongside the impressive Oli Field, who acted quick to bring down Zac Santo after the Australian full-back had made it past halfway on the kick-return.

York defended their try-line resolutely after a knock-on gifted Toulouse a scrum 10 metres from the line, but Pelissier could not hold onto the ball.

But the Knights’ defence was eventually breached with 10 minutes left to play after the visitors had won a 20-metre restart, Benjamin Laguerre racing clear down the left edge before kicking inside for Marion to score.

Having lost Towse to a head injury soon after, York continued to fight, but could not take their opportunities as Harris’ grubber was shepherded into touch after he had seen his side handed possession 30-metres from the line.

A fantastic effort from Henderson’s side against the promotion-chasers, but one that ultimately ended in defeat, ahead of a deserved week’s break before their trip to Widnes Vikings on August 20.

YORK KNIGHTS: Brown, Towse, Pratt, Dee, Bass, Hingano, Harris, Michael, Jubb, Fitzsimmons, Field, Kirmond, Thompson.

INTERCHANGES: Teanby, Ta’ai, Santi, Warren.

TRIES: Bass (29, 43), Santi (56)

GOALS: Harris 1/3

TOULOUSE OLYMPIQUE: Santo, Marcon, Jussaume, Armitage, Laguerre, Marion, Shorrocks, Belmas, Gahan, Biscarro, Peyroux, Stefani, Hansen

INTERCHANGES:  Pelissier, Akauola, Bretherton, Richards

TRIES: Armitage (15), Richards (35), Marion (70)

GOALS: Shorrocks 3/3

POINTS SEQUENCE: 0-4, 0-6, 4-6, 4-10, 4-12, 8-12, 12-12, 14-12, 14-16, 14-18.


YORK’S STAR MAN: Oli Field. Henderson had praised the 20-year-old for improving week on week at the Knights earlier in the week, with the second-rower backing up those claims with a strong performance across the pitch.

REFEREE: Ben Thaler.