YORK Knights were denied a first win of the Betfred Championship season at the death as a Brad Walker drop-goal saw them slip to a gutting 15-14 defeat at Barrow Raiders.

Both sides struggled in the blustery wind at Craven Park, though the hosts could have sealed victory by a greater margin after seeing a hat-trick of tries ruled out by referee Kevin Moore.

Will Jubb opened the scoring shortly after the quarter-hour, but the Knights could not hold onto their lead, with a quick-fire double from the hosts seeing them trail by two points at the break.

Oli Field did restore the visitors’ advantage with 17 minutes remaining before Charlie Severs’ first Knights try opened up a six-point gap, but after Luke Cresswell had tied the scores with five minutes remaining, Walker ensured the narrowest of victories for Barrow.

There was also concern on the injury front for Andrew Henderson’s side, with both Will Dagger and Jimmy Keinhorst withdrawn inside the game’s opening half.

Now only the Knights and Batley Bulldogs remain to add points to the board this season as the Championship heads into Round Four.

Henderson made three changes from the side that were defeated by Toulouse Olympique last weekend, notably welcoming back Dagger and Jordan Thompson from their respective two-match suspensions.

Will Jubb was also reinstated at hooker, with Myles Harrison, Ronan Michael and Josh Daley dropping out of the starting line-up.

The Knights saw the game’s first penalty fall their way for holding on Keinhorst just three minutes into the contest, but despite a lovely combination between Jesse Dee and Joe Brown on the right edge, the latter was ruled to have stepped into touch.

Barrow were themselves left feeling aggrieved on the 10-minute mark after Liam Harris opted to leave a grubber in his direction, but although the ball was flicked backwards and touched down, Moore ruled that it had already rolled dead.

It was the Knights who nudged themselves ahead five minutes later, with the old adage of penalty, penalty, try, falling in their favour.

Having won a penalty for a high tackle on Ata Hingano, and then another after a ball strip on Thompson, Jubb marked his return with a try after selling the Barrow defence a dummy before burrowing over from close range.

Dagger slotted over the conversion, with the aid of the right-hand post.

The hosts looked for an immediate response, with the wind blowing the resultant kick-off back in their direction before Field was penalised for holding, but Tom Walker was held up by the Knights defence.

Severs then broke through the Raiders’ line, but he could not connect with the ball as he looked to kick towards the right corner.

Barrow thought that they had brought themselves onto the scoreboard for a second time when Scottish international Charlie Emslie appeared to have touched down into the left corner, but Moore ruled his attempt as a dropped ball.

The Knights were then dealt a double injury blow, with Dagger pulling up holding his shoulder, and Keinhorst appearing to have injured his ankle whilst diving onto Ryan Johnston’s grubber – with 10 players now potentially unavailable for next Sunday’s visit of Championship favourites Wakefield Trinity.

Their substitutions paved the way for the hosts to hit back, with a neat show of hands seeing the ball find Ryan Shaw on the left edge via an overlap, the winger diving across into the corner to bring Barrow onto the board.

Shaw dragged his attempt from the tee across the posts and could also not convert three minutes later after Max Clarke left two defenders in his wake to cross with seconds until half-time.

The Knights played the second half into the wind, but they could not make that work to their advantage, the blustery conditions contributing to their undoing late on.

York Press: The swirling wind made it near impossible for Liam Harris to score either of his touchline conversion attempts.The swirling wind made it near impossible for Liam Harris to score either of his touchline conversion attempts. (Image: Craig Hawkhead)

Harris, who spent time on both the wing and at his favoured half-back, was the first victim of the wind when his kick on the last tackle flew back into his hands on the 40-metre line, in what became a story of the Knights’ kicking game after the break.

Hingano won the visitors the game’s first goal-line drop-out eight minutes into the half, with James Greenwood trapped in-goal as he pounced on a grubber that had cannoned back off the post.

But York could not take that opportunity, nor another after they had won a penalty for holding on Leeds Rhinos loanee Tom Nicholson-Watton.

Barrow looked to have pulled further ahead when Shaw was first to Johnston’s grubber into the left corner, but after consulting with his touch judge, Moore ruled the ball to have again rolled dead.

York Press: Oli Field powered across the whitewash to kickstart the second-half scoring.Oli Field powered across the whitewash to kickstart the second-half scoring. (Image: Craig Hawkhead)

Instead, it was the Knights who restored their lead, as after winning a six-again, a neat show of hands through Harris, Hingano and Brown found Field, who excellently finished into the corner as he was tackled.

Harris took over kicking duties but had little chance of converting from the touchline into the swirling wind.

The hosts looked to respond instantaneously after winning a 20-metre restart, and then a six-again inside the Knights’ 10-metre line, but Ta’ai forced Josh Wood into an error as he bore down on the whitewash.

Having survived that scare, York extended their lead to six points less than a minute later, former Heworth youngster Severs scoring his first Knights try after a stunning flowing move involving Ta’ai, Field, Brown, Tom Lineham and Dee.

But a moment of trickery allowed Barrow back into the game with five minutes remaining, Johnston’s chipped kick bouncing favourably for Walker, who fed Cresswell to cross beneath the posts.

Shaw could not miss from bang in front, and with the scores tied, a drop-goal was likely needed to settle proceedings.

It looked to have been advantage York as the sides looked for the crucial point after the hosts made an almighty mess of the restart, but Shaw’s goal-line drop-out proved outstanding as it sent Brown backpedalling to his own 10-metre line to retrieve.

But when Dee dropped a simple pass in his direction to leave the Raiders within distance of a drop-goal attempt, Walker made no mistake to send Craven Park into raptures with two minutes left to play.

It proved too little, too late for the Knights to respond as their winless start to the season now extends into a fourth round.

BARROW RAIDERS: Cresswell, Bulman, Costello, Clarke, Shaw, B. Walker, Johnston, T. Walker, Wood, Silva, Greenwood, Stack, Wilkinson.

INTERCHANGES: Forber, Rothwell, Emslie, Gillam

TRIES: Shaw (36), Clarke (40), Cresswell (75)

GOALS: Shaw 1 /3

DROP GOALS: B. Walker (78)

YORK KNIGHTS: Dagger, Brown, Dee, Keinhorst, Lineham, Hingano, Harris, Ta’ai, Jubb, Thompson, Field, Severs, Bailey.

INTERCHANGES: Fitzsimmons, Teanby, Daley, Nicholson-Watton.

TRIES: Jubb (16), Field (63), Severs (69)

GOALS: Dagger 1/1, Harris 0/2

POINTS SEQUENCE: 0-4, 0-6, 4-6, 8-6, 8-10, 8-14, 12-14, 14-14, 15-14.


YORK’S STAR MAN: Oli Field. A strong performance from the second-rower, who at times had to play out of position, and who got himself onto the scoreboard in the second half.


REFEREE: Kevin Moore