FOR a Championship One team to have any chance of causing a major Challenge Cup shock, or at least making a game of it, against Super League opposition, they need a good start, good fortune and a few refereeing calls to go their way.

York City Knights, however, had exactly the opposite and duly lost 58-8 to Crusaders in the fourth round.

Rhys Hanbury scored at the end of the Welsh team’s first attack to settle whatever nerves they might have had.

Thereafter, several bad bounces saw the ball evade would-be Knights scorers at one end, whereas lucky ricochets accounted for at least three tries at the other – including that opening score when a kind rebound gave them another set of six.

Furthermore, the Super League side were assisted, particularly in the first half, by dubious calls by Warrington referee Matthew Thomason, which gave them more possession and territory than they warranted, with tries coming as a result.

The scoreline, though, does not do credit to the part-timers’ efforts against the full-time favourites.

It was the first time the Knights had hosted Super League opposition in a competitive match, and from the moment rugby union legend Gareth Thomas, still in his first few weeks as a rugby league player, made good ground in the very first hit-up, they knew it was going to be tough.

But they stuck to their guns admirably – as illustrated by the fact the only try in the last 17 minutes, when the bigger, stronger, fitter, faster full-time team often score most heavily, was notched by York.

The fact the visitors had 26 sets in the first half and 20 in the second – sizeable shares of possession – illustrates how much defending the Knights had to do, sometimes harshly due to those refereeing calls.

And Crusaders’ extra power and pace made defending all the more difficult, as they naturally fared better in collisions and first contact.

The fact York were without props Brett Waller, to injury, Jon Fallon, to suspension, and Alex Benson, to a back injury suffered in training, as well as Chris Clough, who was unavailable for training, also did not help their cause. Carl Barrow did well enough on his recall to the front row, while young playmaker Luke Helliwell, who won a call-up after impressing for the reserves, also did little wrong.

The Knights did their utmost to keep pace and the fact they troubled the visitors’ defence indicates again they should have plenty of points in them when playing Championship One counterparts.

Player/assistant-coach Chris Thorman, back from injury, was at the hub of many good things, injecting speed and quality whenever he had the ball, suggesting he could still cut it in the top tier.

It was his kick that won a dropout, before the Knights replied to Crusaders’ opening score as Joe McLocklan’s kick to the left was hacked back inside and Jonny Schofield won the race.

Lee Waterman should have converted but he left his shooting boots at home, whereas Crusaders goalkicker Michael Witt had his with him. He might have a queer run-up but he missed only one of ten, several of which were from the touchline.

His second goal came after Nick Youngquest out-jumped Tom Lineham to touch down a kick – a try which followed a dubious penalty and an unpunished knock-on.

The Knights, having bravely held up Jason Chan and Clinton Schifcofske over the try-line, should have hit back when McLocklan sent the hard-working Richard Blakeway away, but the captain’s inside pass to Danny Ratcliffe wasn’t the best and went to ground.

Instead, another dodgy penalty for reefing helped set up a try for one-time York target Jamie Thackray, to a chorus of “you’re not fit to referee”.

The penalty count was 6-1 in Crusaders’ favour by the time of Chan’s 25th-minute try, which came after a fortunate rebound, while Hanbury made it 30-6 at half-time – with York fans adamant he had been tackled into the flag.

In between times, the Knights went close through Waterman and Danny Ratcliffe, both seeing kicks bobble agonisingly away.

Lloyd White got the scoreboard ticking in the second half, and Thomas’ fine break from the restart saw Ben Flower follow-up.

A ricochet fell kindly for White to cross again, sandwiching two near misses for York as bad bounces denied Dennis Tuffour and Schofield, before 35-year-old Thomas showed he still had the legs to go the length of the field – picking up a loose ball as the referee ignored calls it had been patted forward by a Crusaders defender.

Chan got his second through some tired defence, but Crusaders’ switch into cruise control should not detract from the fact York had the last say.

Superb handling by McLocklan and second-rower Danny Hill, who gave his all and performed admirably throughout, gave Tuffour a chance to notch his fourth try in three appearances, and he cut inside his man to take it well.

Lady Luck still frowned on York, though, as Waterman’s conversion from out wide hit an upright.

Match facts

Knights: Ratcliffe 7, Tuffour 7, Mitchell 7, Waterman 7, Lineham 7, Thorman 8, Schofield 6, Applegarth 7, Stamp 7, Freer 8, Hill 8, Blakeway 7, McLocklan 7.

Subs (all used): Ross 7, Peacock 7, Barrow 6, Helliwell 6.

Tries: Schofield 7; Tuffour 75.

Conversions: None.

Penalties: None.

Drop goals: None.

Sin-binned: None.

Sent off: None.

Crusaders: Schifcofske, Thomas, Dyer, Hanbury, Young-quest, Lupton, Witt, Thackray, Withers, Bryant, Chan, Winter-stein, Trimarchi.

Subs (all used): Kear, Dudson, Flower, White.

Tries: Hanbury 2, 36; Youngquest 13; Thackray 21; Chan 25, 63; White 46, 52; Flower 48; Thomas 60.

Conversions: Witt 2, 13, 21, 25, 36, 46, 48, 60, 63.

Penalties: None.

Drop goals: None.

Sin-binned: None.

Sent off: None.

Man of the match: Nathan Freer – the prop epitomised York’s work ethic, battling away regardless of the scoreline, as he fought in defence and continually ran the ball in.

Referee: Matthew Thomason (Warrington) – several dubious calls went the Crusaders’ way, as if they needed any extra help.

Penalty count: 4-7.

Weather watch: quite pleasant.

Half-time: 4-30.

Attendance: 719.

Moment of the match: for neutrals, it was seeing the old legend Gareth Thomas have the legs to score a length-of-the-field try. For York fans, it was the two home tries, Dennis Tuffour’s being the pick due to the quality of the execution.

Gaffe of the match: Lee Waterman’s gettable conversion attempt which would have equalised the scores at 6-6.

Game-breaker: Crusaders’ third try midway through the first half.

March rating: a decent spectacle considering the one-sided scoreline, and great for York fans to see rugby legends Gareth Thomas, Iestyn Harris and Brian Noble at Huntington Stadium.