RICHIE Myler marked his 400th career appearance with a brace of tries as York Knights closed in on Wembley with a dominant 46-12 victory over Oldham in their AB Sundecks 1895 Cup quarter final.

Now, just Sheffield Eagles stand between Andrew Henderson’s side and the trophy-crowning match under the famous arch on June 8.

The Knights were in near-complete control from start to finish, with doubles from Myler and full-back Will Dagger helping to build a healthy 34-6 advantage by the interval, despite Logan Astley hitting back for the visitors shortly before the break.

And though the game turned increasingly scrappy during the second half, further efforts from Conor Fitzsimmons and AJ Towse ensured a deserved victory for the Knights against their Betfred League One opponents.

Henderson made four changes from the side that started last weekend’s Betfred Challenge Cup exit to the Eagles, with Brad Ward and Myles Harrison coming in to replace Oli Field and Joe Brown, who both missed out through illness, with Jesse Dee moving from centre into the second row.

Ukuma Ta’ai replaced the injured Brenden Santi, whilst Josh Daley dropped to the bench, with Will Jubb reprising his role as starting hooker.

Oldham, fancied for promotion to the Betfred Championship this term, fielded a strong squad themselves, though were without New Zealand forward Elijah Taylor and 2023 Championship League Leaders’ Shield winner Craig Kopczak due to injury.

Half-back Jamie Ellis lined up against his former side after departing the club midway through last season, whilst the hugely experienced Joe Wardle and Matty Wildie also featured for Sean Long’s Roughyeds, whom Henderson warned were a League One side in name only.

The Knights started well, with Ward dragging Mackenzie Turner into touch as Oldham looked to advance down the left, paving the way for the hosts to open the scoring with just five minutes on the clock.

After Connor Bailey had been held up, the Knights continued to attack down the right edge, with Myler finding Harrison, who powered his way through two defenders and across the line for his first try of the season.

Will Dagger added the extras and did so again seven minutes later when Harris took advantage of a penalty for a high tackle to ghost through the Oldham line and score underneath the posts.

And the Knights were three tries in front just after the quarter-hour after a silky move on the left edge, Myler delivering a bullet pass to Dee, who just managed to slip in Dagger to stroll over the line as he was tackled.

York Press: Full-back Will Dagger was also at the double for the Knights.Full-back Will Dagger was also at the double for the Knights. (Image: Craig Hawkhead)

Oldham however, possessed an attacking threat of their own, and after Ward had conceded the game’s only goal-line drop out on the 20-minute mark, it took only a ball spill from former Widnes Vikings veteran Danny Craven to relieve the pressure on the Knights’ 10-metre line.

Instead, it was the Knights who extended their advantage five minutes later, Dagger winning the foot race to Harris’ grubber to score his second of the match before tagging on the extras.

The flurry of tries soon continued for Henderson’s side, Dagger breaking through the Oldham defence and running from deep within his own half before unselfishly passing to Myler to crown his appearance milestone with a simple finish beneath the posts.

However, any celebrations were short lived, with the visitors able to drag themselves onto the scoreboard after winning a scrum from the restart, with former Wigan Warriors youngster Logan Astley turning on the afterburners to score into the left corner.

Ellis added the extras in the first of two successful conversions against his former side.

But Oldham were guilty of making errors of their own, a high tackle on Myler 10 metres from the line gifting Nikau Williams the field position to carve out space for the former Leeds Rhinos half-back to fend off two defenders and crash his way across the whitewash.

Dagger missed his only effort from the tee, but with a 34-6 lead by the interval, the Knights had effectively already secured their progression.

However, if the first half had proved one of fast-flowing rugby, the second proved an altogether different affair.

A miscommunication between Dagger and Towse from Ellis’ kick-off typified an error-strewn second half that started with five knock-on’s in as many minutes.

An offside then seemed to have presented Oldham with a golden opportunity to cut the deficit, but Adam Lawton could not keep his grasp on the ball under pressure on the 10-metre line.

Despite forcing Dagger into a handling error as he bore down on the whitewash, the visitors could not keep the Knights out from their next attack, with Conor Fitzsimmons barging his way through from the 10-metre line, turning two defenders before reaching out a hand to score.

Oldham though continued to look dangerous in attack, with Jimmy Keinhorst alert to bring down Ellis inches from the line before defensive pressure saw Jay Chapelhow cough up possession.

York were dealt a blow when captain Harris hobbled off with an apparent calf injury late on, before Myler saw a hat-trick try controversially ruled out for a knock-on in the grounding with 13 minutes left to play.

And they were left feeling even more aggrieved from the restart, with Joe Wardle carving through the defensive line before finding the supporting Owen Farnworth to cross for a consolation for the visitors.

York Press: AJ Towse wrapped up the scoring for the Knights.AJ Towse wrapped up the scoring for the Knights. (Image: Craig Hawkhead Photography)

But it was the Knights who had the last word after an outstanding run from Keinhorst set up the field position for Myler to deliver a cut-out pass to Towse, who turned two defenders before reaching a hand out to score.

And the scoreline could have improved further still for the hosts in the dying seconds after Jubb found himself with space to run into, but he fell at the vital moment with Myler in support.

Nonetheless, a performance that seemed more business as usual for Henderson’s side ahead of their Championship season opener at Doncaster in a fortnight’s time.

YORK KNIGHTS: Dagger, Ward, Harrison, Keinhorst, Towse, Myler, Harris, Ta’ai, Jubb, Fitzsimmons, Dee, Bailey, Thompson.

INTERCHANGES: Williams, Teanby, Daley, Reynolds.

TRIES: Harrison (5), Harris (12), Dagger (16, 25), Myler (28, 36), Fitzsimmons (55), Towse (74)

GOALS: Dagger 7/8

OLDHAM: Astley, Tyrer, O’Keefe, J. Turner, M. Turner, Craven, Ellis, Farnworth, Aldridge, J. Chapelhow, Lawton, Wardle, Wildie.

INTERCHANGES: Paga, Jo. Johnson, T. Chapelhow, Ja. Johnson

TRIES: Astley (32), Farnworth (68)

GOALS: Ellis 2/2

POINTS SEQUENCE: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 12-0, 16-0, 18-0, 22-0, 24-0, 28-0, 30-0, 30-4, 30-6, 34-6, 38-6, 40-6, 40-10, 40-12, 44-12, 46-12.


YORK’S STAR MAN: Richie Myler. A brace of tries on a milestone appearance for the experienced half-back. A mention too to the Knights’ middles of Thompson, Fitzsimmons and Ta’ai for a relentless performance.

REFEREE: Ben Thaler