YORK Knights’ resurgence under new boss Mark Applegarth came to a halt as they fell to an 18-10 defeat to Sheffield Eagles at the LNER Community Stadium.

It was by no means smooth sailing for Mark Aston’s side as they recorded their third win in North Yorkshire this season, but they took their few chances to move back up to second in the Betfred Championship table.

The Knights again fell behind early, with Kris Welham striking after seven minutes before Anthony Thackeray crashed over with a trademark dummy just after the half-hour.

Like they had at Featherstone Rovers last weekend, York crucially dealt the first blow after the break as Brad Ward flew into the left corner, however, did not strike again until a rare moment of magic from Ata Hingano brought the scores back within two points with six minutes to play.

Momentum remained with the hosts thereafter, but they were dealt the killer blow inside the final minute, with Joel Farrell burrowing over from close range to send the two points home with the Eagles.

Applegarth made one change from the side that came from behind to beat Featherstone Rovers last weekend, with Brenden Santi replacing the injured Ukuma Ta’ai, with fellow prop Ronan Michael taking his place among the interchanges.

Sheffield named a characteristically strong line up, including former Knights Matty Marsh, Ben Jones-Bishop, Thackeray, Mitch Clark and Mikey Wood.

Jordan Thompson was voted as our Man of the Match.Jordan Thompson was voted as our Man of the Match. (Image: Craig Hawkhead Photography)

Both teams saw out their early sets, though Sheffield were perhaps lucky not to have conceded a penalty with just two minutes played after Glover appeared to have caught Will Dagger high on the kick return.

Jones-Bishop then drove Sheffield to the 20-metre line after bursting down the right wing but Will Jubb was quick to collect the loose ball after an attempted pass to Marsh.

The Knights though were behind just two minutes later, albeit with a stroke of misfortune.

Marsh’s grubber bounced back off Hingano and into the path of Welham, who won the foot race from 30 metres to crash over just to the right of the posts.

Cory Aston added the extras in the first of three successful attempts from the tee.

The Eagles threatened to double their tally almost instantaneously, but Glover was bundled into touch as he looked to exploit a gap on the left edge.

Matty Dawson-Jones’ knock-on presented the Knights with their first real opportunity on the 20-minute mark, but Jordan Thompson was held up as he looked to force his way through.

Dagger then let the ball slip from his grasp under no pressure as he looked to combine with Brad Ward.

York came within a whisker of bringing themselves onto the scoreboard just before the half-hour after captain Liam Harris had twisted his way out of a tackle to touch down, but referee Scott Mikalauskas instead penalised Connor Bailey for obstruction in the build-up.

And they were left feeling even more incensed when the Eagles doubled their advantage in the blink of an eye.

Having seen Thompson spill the ball on his 30-metre line, Sheffield exploited the Knights’ right edge, with their defence all at sea as Thackeray sold them a dummy before diving across to the left of the posts.

Aston again slotted over the conversion.

Then came a moment of controversy as Jimmy Keinhorst appeared to have been kicked as he made a tackle, with the Eagles perhaps lucky to have conceded just a penalty.

But the hosts could not make the most of that opportunity, nor Joe Brown’s break 50 metres upfield three minutes later, with Sheffield doing just enough to preserve their 12-point lead at the interval.

Applegarth had instructed his side to neaten up their play and trust the process during the second half, and that proved dividends almost immediately.

Dagger delivered a sublime cut-out pass to Ward, with the winger providing an equally stunning flying finish into the left corner to give the Knights a glimmer of hope.

Brad Ward gave the Knights a glimmer of hope with a flying finish shortly after half-time.Brad Ward gave the Knights a glimmer of hope with a flying finish shortly after half-time. (Image: Craig Hawkhead Photography)

They looked to replicate that same move from the next set after Thompson had broken through the defensive line, but Sheffield were wise to it, tackling Dagger before he could get his pass away.

York should have again reduced the deficit on the hour, but Michael could not hold onto Hingano’s offload, instead seeing the ball slip from his grasp as he looked to crash over unopposed next to the posts.

And that could have proved crucial, with Clark charging 60 metres down the centre of the field a minute later, but the ex-Knights loanee knocked-on as he went to play the ball.

That was characteristic of the 10 minutes that followed, as despite both teams being awarded penalties, possession was routinely cheaply turned over early into the set.

Instead, it took a moment of magic from Hingano to inject life back into the encounter with six minutes to play.

After Conor Fitzsimmons - returning to the field after having passed a HIA - had been brought down narrowly short, the Tongan half-back stepped inside off his left foot before surging through a gap to touch down.

Dagger’s simple conversion brought the scores back within two, setting up a nail-biting final five minutes.

With a growing belief, the Knights sensed their opportunity, with Hingano stabbing a grubber in the direction of Harris, only to see his half-back partner floored by a tackle as he looked to race onto it and score.

But it was the Eagles who dealt the killer blow inside the final minute, as after Keinhorst had been penalised for an error at the play-the-ball, Farrell burrowed over from close range next to the posts, handing Aston the simplest of conversions to seal a hard-fought victory.

YORK KNIGHTS: Dagger, Brown, Williams, Keinhorst, Ward, Hingano, Harris, Santi, Jubb, Thompson, Field, Bailey, Gannon.

INTERCHANGES: Fitzsimmons, Teanby, Michael, Daley.

TRIES: Ward (44), Hingano (73)

GOALS: Dagger 1/2

SHEFFIELD EAGLES: Marsh, Jones-Bishop, Welham, Glover, Dawson-Jones, Aston, Thackeray, Battye, Halafihi, Clark, Foster, Farrell, Hodgson.

INTERCHANGES: Dickinson, Bower, Gwaze, Wood.

TRIES: Welham (7), Thackeray (32), Farrell (79)

GOALS: Aston 3/3

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


YORK’S STAR MAN: Jordan Thompson. A typically workhorse performance from the prop, who never stopped battling against Sheffield's pack.

REFEREE: Scott Mikalauskas