|York City Knights26
Tries: Spears (7) Normington (26)
Batchelor (42) Jubb (69)
Penalties: Robinson (75)
Conversions: Robinson (4/4)
Tonks (16); Barnes (69)
Conversions: Hardcastle (2/2)
It seems a long time ago since the Bradford defeat, as York City Knights achieved their fourth win in a row with a scrappy victory over Keighley Cougars.
It wasn’t the most dazzling of displays by a long shot, but like the Swinton victory last week, the Knights dug in deep to keep Keighley at bay and see out another important scalp in Betfred League One.
Nearly 1,500 fans turned out to see the Knights tame the Cougars on Sunday (March 25), as rugby league fever continues to spread across York with the Knights’ success.
A close opening
The first half was very much snakes and ladders, with both teams huffing and puffing, but neither obtaining a dominating edge.
It was the Knights who struck first though. Captain Tim Spears scored his second try in as many weeks, after running onto a loose ball like a steam train to blast over the line, and Connor Robinson added the extras with a conversion.
That spurred the Knights into action, who started to enjoy themselves, but mistakes started to come to fruition and Keighley took advantage on 16 minutes.
Josh Tonks crashed over for the visitors after a Knights attempt at piggyback their opponents up field back fired, and Ben Hardcastle converted from the touchline to make it 6-6.
The Knights didn’t crumble though, and were back in front ten minutes later. Powerful centre Jake Normington stepped up and blasted his way over the line from close range.
Connor Robinson again converted to put York 12-6 up and assured the Knights would be in the lead at half time.
A humongous roar
Just after the break, the St Helens scouts who came to watch Knights sensation Joe Batchelor were given a feast for their eyes.
The 22-year-old caught the Cougars completely by surprise, after blocking an attacking kick, picking up, and racing an incredible 90-metres to score his fourth try of the season.
It received a humongous roar from the Knights faithful, and Connor Robinson scored his hat-trick of conversions to put York well on course for victory at 18-6.
Moments later, Judah Mazive was denied his second try in two games after leaping spectacularly into the right corner – ruled out for reasons still unknown to many.
It was of little significance though, as on 56 minutes, Hull KR loanee Will Jubb scored with a classic close-range finish on the last tackle to increase the lead further.
Four out of four conversions for Connor Robinson meant the Knights were now home and dry with the score at 24-6.
Keep calm and dig deep
With Keighley hanging on by a thread, they started to keep the ball with nothing much to play for and the Knights were forced to work hard for their victory.
The Cougars eventually forced their way through ten minutes from time. A disastrous pass from Spears gifted the ball to Hamish Barnes of Keighley, who gathered, and ran 40 metres to score.
Hardcastle then converted his second, and the Cougarmania had a lifeline – but it was too little too late.
After missing a 40-yard penalty moments before, Connor Robinson was successful with his second attempt on 75 minutes. A foul on Jubb allowed him to kick a two-pointer with aplomb and round off the 26-12 score-line.
The Knights saw the game out from there, and cheers at the final whistle welcomed a fourth win in all competitions.
After the game, James Ford was delighted to see a continuation of the resilience that has seen his side through to victory on more than one occasion this season.
However, the head coach though his side could have been better across the board, feeling they lacked a discipline and composure where, against a better side, they may have been punished.
Ford commended the Knights supporters for turning out in force and highlighted the importance of the positive atmosphere created by the crowd, during tricky periods of play.
I’m obviously pleased to get two points. We knew Keighley would come here and challenge us and they’ll be pushing for that top 5 this year.
Performance wise, our attitude was good, we worked hard for one another, and that got us through in the end.
But execution of the ball and our discipline was a little bit off in terms of our standards, not taking anything away from Keighley, but we should have been a little bit better across the board really.
It’s great to see the numbers in the crowds increasing, the fans were really vocal and got behind the boys in some tricky patches today, and that’s really important.
Watch James Ford’s full post-match interview in full
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