York City Knights and Featherstone Rovers rounded off the opening round of the Betfred Championship at the former's LNER Community Stadium, with the visitors the red hot favourites to win - and indeed to get to the season climax in the Million Pound Game.
Rovers got first use of the ball from the kick-off and set out their stall, gaining a good 80m before testing Kights full back Matt Harrison with a high kick. When the Knights came to kick, though, Fev winger Gareth Gale dropped the ball for a knock-on. York pressed the Rovers line, but lost the ball themselves at the end of the set and then gave away a penalty for a high tackle, followed by Jordan Thompson giving away his own penalty in York's 20m.
Fev seemed certain to score, but Jesse Sene-Lefao lost the ball while attempting to ground it and had to come off the field injured with just over five minutes of the game gone.
Both teams made it clear the fans were set for an eventful nights, but it was Rovers who kep the pressure on their hosts throughout the game's first 20 minutes. And it paid off when Morgan Smith crashed over next to the posts to give Craig Hall an easy conversion and a 0-6 lead to the visitors.
With the dam broken, Rovers struck again with an almost identital mover setting Jack Bussey up to dot down in almost the same position and an identical manner. Hall's goal doubled their lead to 12 points.
The Knights struck back almost immediately, though, with what seemed like the first attacking they whre they managed to get beyond their own 30m mark and into the Rovers' danger zone.
As they pressed on the right, Jamie Ellis put up a high kick up into the corner. When Joe Brown beat Gale and gathered the ball in the air, he offloaded and James Glover dribbled through. The Knights' centre dropped on the ball to take the score to 4-12. Ellis converted and the score was a more competitive 6-12 with half an hour gone.
A frantic final 10 minutes to the half then saw both tams have chances to score without quite managing to nail them down, with a final promising York attack built on Ellis's hight kick to the corner - dropped by Gale - running out of time and brought to an end by the hooter.
York started the second with the momentum seemingly going their way for the first 10 minutes until Rovers struck against the flow and two quick tries in succession swung the game clearly Featherstone’s way.
First Josh Hardcastle finished off a passive in the right corner, followed by Tom Briscoe running it in the same corner. Hall converted both efforts to notch up a 6-24 score.
For a hot 20 minutes York battled hard but made no impression on Rovers' dominance. But with just 13 minutes to go, Will Jubb burrowed over from a ruck on Fev's line. Ellis converted from practically in front of the posts and the Knights were back at two scores behind.
But it was Rovers who grabbed the next score, with Hall breaking free on the left and running clear to the line to dot down in the corner. He failed to add the extras from the sideline though.
York's night was summed up, though, with two minutes to go when Brown kicked through and chased his own kick - he seemed to collect the ball with the line clear before him but knocked on.
And to add the final injury to York for the night, they were penalised for stripping the ball in front of their posts, with just seconds to go. Hall made no mistake with that kick, taking the score to 12-30 as the final hooter sounded.
Score progression: 0-0, 0-4, 0-6, 0-10, 0-12, 4-12, 6-12. Half Time. 6-16, 6-18, 6-22, 6-24, 12-24, 12-28, 12-30. Full Time.
York City Knights: Harrison; Brown , Glover (T), Marsh, Oakes; Marsh, Ellis (2 G); Michael, Jubb (T), Matongo, Kirmond, Clarkson, Thompson. Interchange: Brining, Pauli, Stock, Teanby.
Feathersone Rovers: Picksgill; Briscoe (T), Hardcastle (T), Hall (T, 4G), Gale; Holmes, Smith (T); Lockwood, Wildie, Cooper, Sene-Fefao, Moors, Bussey (T). Interchange: Jones, Davies, Trout, Field.
Referee: Jack Smith.
Venue: LNER Community Stadium.
Half Time: 6-12.
Full Time: 12-30.