YORK Knights continued their electric form into the final month of the regular Betfred Championship season this afternoon as they ground out a 26-22 victory over Swinton Lions.

Temperatures at the LNER Community Stadium reached a sweltering 24 degrees, with Andrew Henderson’s side made to work hard to secure their seventh win in their last eight league matches.

The Knights were at times their own worst enemies, conceding 11 penalties and a goal-line drop-out during the encounter in a performance that lacked much of the patient play exhibited through their recent winning streak.

For what Swinton were missing in quality, they had plenty of heart and determination, a penalty in their favour on the hooter testament to a side that did not give up from the first minute until the last despite their precarious position at the wrong end of the table.

But the Knights found just enough to see themselves across the line in an encounter that ebbed and flowed, tries from Jordan Thompson, Will Jubb and a brace from Man of the Match Oli Pratt ensuring that just two points now separate them from a place in the play-offs.

RECAP: York Knights 26-22 Swinton Lions

Henderson made three changes from the side that earned a 20-6 victory at rock-bottom Newcastle Thunder nine days ago, with Myles Harrison replacing the injured Joe Brown at full-back, whilst Josh Daley made his first appearance since July’s 50-10 rout of Keighley Cougars alongside Liam Harris in the halves ahead of schedule.

That saw Jesse Dee moved back to the second row in place of veteran Danny Kirmond, with prop Pauli Pauli making a real impact on his first appearance under Henderson from among the interchanges, returning to the field 13 months on from a horror ACL injury last August.

The visitors looked to give themselves an early lead, with the Knights’ defence seemingly parting around the run of Matty Foster, who brought his side to within 20 metres of the line before they were penalised for a forward pass.

York conceded a six-again for holding before appearing not to have learned from their previous mistake, the St Helens loanee again splitting the Knights’ defence in two, offloading left to the supporting Abram, who crossed behind the posts to open the scoring after nine minutes.

The half-back converted with ease, going on to miss only one of his four attempts in a strong showing.

But the hosts needed just eight minutes to drag themselves back onto level terms, a penalty for offside 10 metres from the line seeing Jubb find Thompson from dummy half, the loose forward crashing over from close range before Liam Harris levelled the scores from the tee.

York Press: Liam Harris scored all five of his attempts from the tee.Liam Harris scored all five of his attempts from the tee. (Image: Craig Hawkhead)

Having failed to score from a six-again inside the attacking half, Swinton’s next error would prove fatal as from a scrum won for a knock-on on the 30-metre line, Jubb sold the visiting defence a sublime dummy, Harris converting to give his side the lead.

The Knights lost prop Conor Fitzsimmons on the 25-minute mark to be replaced by Ronan Michael. At the same time Swinton introduced young Huddersfield Giants hooker George Roby, who has reportedly been linked with a move to York for 2024.

Second-rower Gavin Rodden looked to have cut the deficit only to have been ruled to have dropped the ball as he crossed the line, before Brenden Santi saw a score ruled out, referee Cameron Worsley adjudging Daley’s pass in his direction to have been forwards.

As half time neared, the visitors’ discipline again proved costly, the Italian prop winning his side a penalty that Harris duly arrowed between the posts to give his side a 14-6 advantage.

Pauli’s first involvement after being introduced in the aftermath was to win his side a six-again, but it was the visitors who had the last word before the break.

Having seen Dee penalised for a knock-on, slick hands from Swinton saw the ball worked left to Australian full-back Joe Lowe to dive over into the right corner, cutting the deficit to four on the hooter.

The visitors saw themselves reduced to 12 men within seconds of the second half after former Rochdale Hornets prop Jordan Case talked himself into being sent to the benches for 10 minutes after a hit on Pauli, with the Knights soon making their man advantage count.

Despite losing possession from a loose pass 20 metres from the line, Swinton were as sloppy with their scrum, Wakefield Trinity loanee Pratt intercepting before winning the foot race against four defenders to cross narrowly to the right of the posts.

York Press: Wakefield Trinity loanee Oli Pratt was voted our Man of the Match after scoring a brace of tries from the centres.Wakefield Trinity loanee Oli Pratt was voted our Man of the Match after scoring a brace of tries from the centres. (Image: Craig Hawkhead)

Another successful conversion from Harris saw him bring up 350 points in the city’s colours.

But despite having fallen further behind, Swinton refused to lie down, the Knights’ ill-discipline again allowing them to close the gap.

A handling error followed by a penalty and a six-again close to the line proved too much pressure for the home defence, Roby darting over the line from dummy half before Abram cut the deficit to just four points.

Kenny Baker fumbled a Roby pass as Swinton looked to register more points on the board in quick succession, but it was York who further extended their lead with 18 minutes left to play, Pratt weaving his way through the visiting defence to complete his brace after the Knights had won a scrum inside the attacking half.

Swinton ensured that the closing stages would be nervy for their hosts, a handling error seeing Abram race through a gap in the York defence before feeding prop Louis Brogan to dive over beneath the posts, the half-back again bringing the scores within four.

Pauli came close to sealing victory for the Knights but saw the ball slip from his grasp at the vital moment, before late drama ensued, Jubb making an error at the play of the ball before the visitors were awarded another penalty 10 metres from the line on the final hooter.

Thankfully for York, a grubber fell into the hands of Sheffield Eagles loanee Jason Bass to seal a ninth consecutive home victory over Swinton, and keep their play-off hopes alive ahead of a tough trip to promotion contenders Bradford Bulls on Sunday (3pm).

YORK KNIGHTS: Harrison, Towse, Clarkson, Pratt, Bass, Daley, Harris, Santi, Jubb, Fitzsimmons, Field, Dee, Thompson.

INTERCHANGES: Michael, Pauli, Price, Pemberton.

TRIES: Thompson (17), Jubb (22), Pratt (42, 62)

GOALS: Harris 5/5

SWINTON LIONS: Lowe, Romeo, Spedding, Badrock, Butt, Abram, Gibson, Bennion, Hall, Brogan, Rodden, Cox, Foster.

INTERCHANGES: Baker, Case, Parnaby, Roby.

TRIES: Abram (9), Lowe (39), Roby (51), Brogan (75).

GOALS: Abram 3/4

POINTS SEQUENCE: 0-4, 0-6, 4-6, 6-6, 10-6, 12-6, 14-6, 14-10, 18-10, 20-10, 20-14, 20-16, 24-16, 26-16, 26-20, 26-22.

HALF TIME: 14-10

YORK’S STAR MAN: Oli Pratt. A fantastic performance from the Wakefield Trinity loanee, who is continuing to improve week on week to score twice.

REFEREE: Cameron Worsley.