YORK Knights got off the mark in the Betfred Championship in style with a 25-14 victory against Bradford Bulls at the LNER Community Stadium.

The Knights had kicked off their 2023 season with victory over the Bulls, and that proved to again be the case as the sunshine was as bright as the performance from Andrew Henderson’s side.

An early Kieran Gill try threatened to set the tone for the afternoon, but the Knights were outstanding thereafter, and were more than good value for a 14-4 half-time lead gained via tries from Jimmy Keinhorst and Jordan Thompson, and the boot of Myles Harrison.

York again showed their intent after the break, with a quick-fire Liam Harris double ensuring their lead was unassailable, despite Elliot Peposhi and Aidan McGowan making the scoreline more respectable late on.

The Knights remain last, but if they continue to deliver performances in a similar vein, they will seldom be there for long.

MATCH RECAP: York Knights 25-14 Bradford Bulls

Henderson named a much-changed team from the one that conceded 50 points to Wakefield last week, notably welcoming back Keinhorst and Harris from their respective injury and suspension.

Harrison made an impressive return to full-back, whilst Charlie Severs was given a run-out in the centres after being made available by Hull FC.

Bradford themselves were buoyed by the return of winger Ben Blackmore after a two-month injury lay-off, but lost Dan Smith in the warm-up and second-row pairing Zac Fulton and Chester Butler to injury.

As the sun shone down in North Yorkshire, Bradford made their own bright start, with Jorge Taufua bringing them to the 10-metre line before they won a six-again.

The pressure proved too much for the Knights, with Jordan Lilley kicking to the left corner, with Taufua beating Joe Brown and flicking the ball for Gill to score into the left corner with just seven minutes on the clock.

Lilley’s conversion fell short of the posts, and with York’s experienced players taking the initiative, it wasn’t long until they were level.

Bradford knocked-on before Ukuma Ta’ai saw the ball stripped from his grasp as the Knights advanced to the 10-metre line, with Thompson feeding Keinhorst to touch down to the left of the posts on his return from an ankle injury.

Harrison added the extras, and added another two points to his tally just before the 20-minute mark with a penalty in front of the posts.

Henderson was handed another injury blow after a high shot on Severs left the former Heworth youngster with a head knock, but though he passed his HIA and returned to play shortly before the break, he was replaced by Harvey Reynolds for the second half.

Bradford did have their bright spells, with consecutive errors bringing them within 10 metres of the line, but the York defence were strong, forcing Keven Appo to fumble an offload as he looked to score.

And another mistake presented the Knights with the opportunity to nudge themselves further ahead, as after Eribe Doro had dropped the ball, Thompson proved too strong for the Bulls’ defence as he barged his way over from close range to the left of the posts.

Harrison’s successful conversion saw the hosts take in a 14-4 lead at the break.

York showed no signs of stopping, needing just three minutes to open the second-half scoring after winning a scrum on the 10-metre line, with the ball played right to Harris, who burst his way through the Bradford defence and across the whitewash.

Injury soon compounded the Bulls’ woes, with Butler forced from the field with a hip problem after several minutes of stoppage.

And the visitors were soon further aggrieved when Harris intercepted a poor offload before sensationally running from his own 10-metre line to cross beneath the posts.

York Press: Liam Harris ran almost the length of the field to score his second of the afternoon.Liam Harris ran almost the length of the field to score his second of the afternoon. (Image: Craig Hawkhead)

Taufua conceded the game’s first drop-out with 15 minutes of the half played after fumbling Harris’ kick, but their option to go short proved to be a good one, as they gained possession back and broke through Aidan McGowan before his progress was halted by his opposite number Harrison.

Lilley watched on as his cross-field kick rolled dead despite the Bulls queueing up to touch down, before the visitors lost Fulton to a HIA after a clash of heads as Ta’ai looked to force his way through beneath the posts.

Having chosen to run it on the last tackle following the game’s resumption, Harris slotted over a drop-goal to score the Knights’ final points of the afternoon on the hour.

Doro came close to forcing his way over from a scrum after Harrison had dropped a grubber, but the Knights’ defence again appeared to have won through, despite having conceded penalties for a ball strip and offside close to their line.

But the pressure eventually told with 12 minutes remaining, the hosts coming to a standstill as Peposhi pounced on Lilley’s grubber beneath the posts to score his first Championship try.

The visitors looked to hit back again from the restart, but Taufua watched on as the ball sailed past him and into touch.

Thompson, Connor Bailey and Harvey Reynolds were all held up before Appo was dragged back to concede a goal-line drop-out, but again a short kick proved fruitful as the Bulls soaked up the late pressure.

Bradford did get over for another consolation in the dying seconds as a powerful drive from makeshift half-back John Davies set up McGowan to score, but it was too little, too late on a day that firmly belonged to the Knights.

An outstanding performance from Henderson’s side, who are now up and running in the Championship ahead of a trip to Batley Bulldogs next weekend.

YORK KNIGHTS: Harrison, Brown, Severs, Keinhorst, Lineham, Pemberton, Harris, Ta’ai, Jubb, Fitzsimmons, Gannon, Bailey, Thompson.

INTERCHANGES: Teanby, Michael, Daley, Reynolds.

TRIES: Keinhorst (14), Thompson (33), Harris (43, 49)

GOALS: Harrison 4/5

DROP-GOALS: Harris (59)

BRADFORD BULLS: McGowan, Blackmore, Arundel, Gill, Taufua, Davies, Lilley, Doro, Souter, Rogers, Fulton, Butler, Hallas.

INTERCHANGES: Appo, Wilson, Ott, Peposhi.

TRIES: Gill (7), Peposhi (68), McGowan (79)

GOALS Lilley 1/3

POINTS SEQUENCE: 0-4, 4-4, 6-4, 8-4, 12-4, 14-4, 18-4, 22-4, 24-4, 25-4, 25-8, 25-10, 25-14


YORK’S STAR MAN: Liam Harris. A real captain’s performance from the half-back on his return from suspension, including that sensational length of the field try.

REFEREE: Mike Smaill