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It was York City Knights and Batley Bulldogs who braved the heat that had brought public transport and much else in the country to a halt, to conclude the round 19 of the Betfred Championship.

The teams started the game lying fourth and fifth in the table, both on 26 points but with the hosts having played one more game – so everything was to play for.

Neither the Bulldogs nor the City Knights looked likely to take third place off Halifax Panthers, with their impressive score difference, but both could take or secure fourth. And a win for Batley would do nothing to to dampen the talk of them being outside contenders for a top two place.

York got first use of the ball, but also the first injury when front rower Massi Matongo suffered a broken collar bone in their first defensive tackle in the game's second set.

But it was Batley who dominated defence in the early minutes, largely restricting York to their own half while threatening the City Knights and turning the ball over in their opponents' 20m.

And when a penalty to the hosts gave them easy metres, Batley showed that their defence could hold up under pressure near their line as well.

Batley fullback Luke Hooley was the first player from either team to actually cross the line, on nine minutes, but lost the ball as he went to touch it down.

The visitors showed a doggedness in attack and crossed again on the next set, only to be held up this time.

York's attack started to come into its own as the  quarter hour approached in what was a fast and furious game.

But a Batley 40-20 turned the advantage round and Hooley was successful in diving over and grounding the ball. Tom Gilmore goaled the try and the visitors led with by six points to nil.

Then on 25 minutes, Martin Reilly offloaded to Alister Leek from a tackle on York's 10. Leek promptly passed the ball into the path of Hooley again, running at the try line with purpose and scoring his second. Gilmore converted again and York trailed 0-12.

And when the Knights gave away a penalty in their own 20 as the half-hour loomed, Gilmore opted to kick it and move the Bulldog lead to three scores at 0-14.

Again and again, York were starting sets just in front of their try line as Batley consolidated their dominance.

That paid off when they moved the ball left to winger John Campbell - who celebrated his 35th birthday the day before with a run to the corner and Batley's next try. Gilmore converted from the sideline and the Bulldogs led 0-20.

Two minutes later the half time hooter blew and York went into the dressing room at their LNER Community Stadium to rethink the structures and plans for the second half.

When the second 40 got under way, the effect could be seen in better kicks coming as they ended sets in the Batley half. Second rower Chris Clarkson crossed the line for the first time for Knights in the 45th minute. He was held up, but York were starting to look value for their league position, despite Batley's recent form.

However, the Bulldogs showed why they had that form when Dane Manning powered over near the posts and Gilmore kicked his fourth conversion.

The score now stood at 0-26.

York began to look lively after a couple of penalties gave them the opportunity to play up the Batley end and forced two goal-line drop-outs from the Bulldogs. And on 59 minutes the pressure paid off on the scoreboard.

The Batley defence couldn't deal comfortably with a high kick through from York and Liam Harris pounced on the loose ball before converting his own try for a 6-26 scoreline.

Batley returned to normal service, though, with fast hands passing the ball to their right where it found second rower Luke Walshaw running to space at speed to score. Gilmore's fifth conversion of the night made the score 32-6.

That became 32-12 just seconds later when a floating pass from York half-back Brendan O'Hagan found 18-year-old winger AJ Towse who dived acrobatically into the corner and Harris converted.

It cheered the home fans, but any hope of an unlikely comback with less than10 minutes to play were doused when Pauli Pauli was sin-binned for a trip.

Nobody told the Knights that it was over though.

Towse scooped up a loose Batley pass near his own 20m line and raced 30m to set up an exciting period of broken play. Centre Levi Edwards built on his break with a run up the left flank before the ball found it's way to Danny Kirmond who raced in on the right.

There was no conversion, but the scoreline looked more respecable at 16-32.

York City Knights: Harrison; Brown, Glover, Edwards, Towse (T); O'Hagan, Harris (T, 2G); Motongo, Jubb, Teanby, Kirmond (T), Clarkson, Pauli (Y71). Subs: Inman, Thompson, Antrobus, Stock.

Batley Bulldogs:  Hooley (2T); Morton, Hodson, Buchanan, Campbell (T); White, Gilmore (5G, P); Brown, Kaye, Reilly; Manning (T), Walshaw (T), Flynn. Subs: Meadows. Leek, Ward, Blake.

Half Time: 0-20.

Full Time: 16-32

Score Progression: 0-4, 0-6, 0-10, 0-12, 0-14, 0-18, 0-20. HT. 0-24, 0-26, 4-26, 6-26, 6-30, 6-32 , 10-32, 12-32, 16-32.

Lead: Batley.

Referee: James Child.




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Posted by tb on Mon 18th Jul 2022 6:54 PM | Views : 4247 | Replies : 0 | BACK TO STORIES
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