Two sides in danger of slipping out of the play-off race met at the LNER Stadium as tenth placed York RLFC Knights took on a London Broncos in eleventh spot with both sides already four points adrift of the top six spots in the nine round old league table.
Both sides have lost on their previous two items and neither side have registered a win since March, the Knights having to look as far back at two months for their last two league points, despite a minor cup run which will see them take on the Broncos again in a fortnights time.
York were the favourites with the bookies and had been handicapped by twelve points on the coupon, but the Broncos have the propensity to spring a surprise when least expected.
It was a nervy opening from both sides with defences outsmarting attacks early on.
The visitors were first to trouble the scorers on thirteen minutes thanks to a great break for the line over twenty-five metres from Ethan Natoli who went over in the corner despite a last-ditch ankle tap from Matty Marsh. Oli Leyland hit the right-hand post with his conversion attempt, the Broncos with a 4-0 lead.
AJ Towse took just three minutes to get the home side back on level terms as he benefitted from an Oli Platt break over sixty metres when on the next play the winger took an Ata Hingano floated pass to force his way over in the corner. James Glover was unable to add the conversion, the sides locked together.
York edged in front on twenty-three when skipper Chris Clarkson went through a gap to score after a patient build-up after the Broncos had spilled the ball in their own half. This time Glover added the conversion for a 10-4 lead.
York were turning on the style and on thirty-seven minutes when Towse chased down a Hingano kick to the corner and was able to take a Glover tap back to go over from close. Glover smashed his kick between the uprights for a 16-4 lead at the interval.
It was the perfect start to the second half for the Broncos with Jordan Williams taking a Wellington Albert pass to sprint for the line from twenty-five after the Broncos were awarded a penalty for a Hingano shoulder charge. Leyland was on target with the kick, the London side back within a converted try.
It was two tries in two minutes for the visitors as Albert crashed over the line after great work by Emanuel Wine, the try right next to the posts allowing Leyland the simple conversion to level the scores at 16-16.
James Glover snatched back the lead for York with a penalty kick on fifty-three and two minutes later Ta´ai used his strength to push over the line and leave a devastated London defence in his wake. Glover hit the mark again and the York lead was back out to eight points.
Terrible defence from York allowed Marcus Stock to ground despite the attention of four tacklers to again reduce the arrears. Leyland added the conversion, and it was a two-point ball game with twelve minutes remaining.
A Hingano 40-20 gained York great field position on seventy-one and two tackles into the set Towse completed his hat-trick as he stepped off both feet to bamboozle the London defence. Glover added the conversion from wide and with a restored eight point lead the Knights had to defend for six minutes.
On seventy-five Waine went in for the fifth Broncos try of the afternoon off a Macani pass as he weaved through a broken defence to ground. Leyland’s goal made the margin two points with four minutes remaining on the clock.
York were awarded a penalty for offside inside the London half with a couple of minutes remaining but couldn´t make it count.
Inside the dying seconds London knocked-on as they threw everything at the win and the final hooter sounded welcome relief for the York Knights.
A tremendously exciting game from the lower reaches of the Championship with a lack of finesse being compensated with hard work and dedication from both sides. The game ebbed in both directions with either side able to win into the dying seconds, York hanging on for the crucial two points.
York RLFC Knights: Marsh, Towse (3T), Glover (5G), Brown, Hingano, Daley, Ta´ai (T), Jubb, Kirby, Field, Clarkson (T), Thompson. Subs: Harrison, Michael, Teanby, Barnard. 18th Man: Barley.
London Broncos: Walker, Ulberg, Bassett, Waine (T), Macani, Leyland O (4G), Raiwalui, Bienek, Davis, Stock (T), Lovell, Natoli (T), Parata. Subs: Leyland B, Albert (T), Williams (T), Silva. 18th Man: Horsman.
Score Progression: 0-4, 4-4, 8-4, 10-4, 14-4, 16-4 : HT: 16-8, 16-10, 16-14, 16-16, 18-16, 22-16, 24-16, 24-20, 24-22, 28-22, 30-22, 30-26, 30-28 : FT.
Lead Exchanges: London – Square – York – Square – York.
Referee: Cameron Worsley.