YORK CITY KNIGHTS 14
SHEFFIELD EAGLES 20
STEPHEN IBBETSON, LNER Community Stadium, Sunday
SHEFFIELD Eagles continued their impressive start to the new season as they held on for a hard-won victory at York City Knights.
Mark Aston’s side followed up their thumping of Bradford Bulls a fortnight ago with a sixth consecutive away win against the Knights, as Anthony Thackeray again starred with two tries before a brilliant defensive display saw the match out.
York, who are yet to get off the mark this term and are still waiting for a first success at their new stadium, were well below par against opponents they defeated by a comfortable margin in the Challenge Cup just a month earlier.
Sheffield were first on the board, with Thackeray setting things in motion with a short pass to slip Oliver Davies through a gap. Though the forward’s flung pass should have been taken by Kieran Dixon, a fumble saw it come back to Thackeray to finish.
Thackeray was having a big impact with smart kicks that kept earning repeat sets and maintained pressure, though for large spells the attack didn’t match. York, with three loan debutants in their line-up in Joe Keyes, Yusuf Aydin and Lewis Peachey, were even less fluent in attack, though ironically their route back came from Thackeray himself.
His kick was claimed by Dixon, who made a superb 90-metre break upfield only for Ryan Millar to track back and make an excellent covering tackle. Those efforts were to little avail though as, on the last tackle, Will Jubb beat Izaac Farrell to Brendan O’Hagan’s grubber to level.
The Eagles were quick to hit back though, Thackeray sparkling with a brilliant dummy and jink through the line off Aaron Brown’s pass for his second try.
And their lead was made more comfortable in the final moments before half-time, with Tyler Dickinson taking on James Davey’s short ball and barging his way through defenders to go over next to the posts. Izaac Farrell’s conversion of all three first-half efforts made it 18-6 at the change of ends.
The second half began in concerning fashion, with Sheffield’s Greg Burns suffering an injury in the first tackle which saw play stopped for more than a dozen minutes before the hooker left on a stretcher with a neck brace.
The hosts looked strong after the added break and soon got over, as an O’Hagan kick slipped through both the fingers and legs of Rob Worrincy and Kieran Dixon flew in to score. He couldn’t convert as he had in the first half though, and the deficit was soon 10 points as Farrell slotted over a penalty at the other end.
York built up momentum as the second period went on, but great defence kept them at bay for long spells. Ben Jones-Bishop was denied over the line, and only with five minutes left did a lifeline finally come through Liam Salter, who skilfully side-stepped two defenders for a great individual score.
Dixon rushed the conversion and missed to leave the Knights needing six points to level, but they had left themselves too little time.
GAMESTAR: A strong forward effort allowed Anthony Thackeray to bring out his box of tricks again, and his kicking proved deadly in the first half to put the Eagles ahead.
GAMEBREAKER: Sheffield were seeing it out until the last seconds as a brilliant second-half defensive effort made all the difference.
1 Matty Marsh
23 Ben Jones-Bishop
3 Liam Salter
4 Ryan Atkins
5 Kieran Dixon
6 Brendan O’Hagan
36 Joe Keyes
8 Ronan Dixon
9 Will Jubb
41 Yusuf Aydin
21 Joe Porter
12 Sam Scott
16 Marcus Stock
Subs (all used)
13 Adam Cuthbertson
19 James Green
28 Danny Washbrook
39 Lewis Peachey
Tries: Jubb (29), K Dixon (44), Salter (75)
Goals: K Dixon 1/3
1 Josh Guzdek
2 Rob Worrincy
29 Mike Adlard
4 James Glover
5 Ryan Millar
22 Izaac Farrell
7 Anthony Thackeray
8 Scott Wheeldon
14 Greg Burns
10 Matt James
15 Oliver Davies
12 Joel Farrell
13 Aaron Brown
Subs (all used)
9 James Davey
17 Frankie Mariano
18 Tyler Dickinson
20 Paddy Burns
Tries: Thackeray (6, 35), Dickinson (40)
Goals: I Farrell 4/4
Rugby Leaguer & League Express Men of the Match
City Knights: Adam Cuthbertson
Eagles: Anthony Thackeray
Penalty count: 7-5; Six-again: 0-1
Half-time: 6-18; Referee: Gareth Hewer
SCORING SEQUENCE: 0-6, 6-6, 6-12, 6-18; 10-18, 10-20, 14-20
You can find match reports from the rest of the Betfred Championship, plus Super League, NRL and League 1, in the latest edition of League Express, in shops Monday morning or available as a digital edition from Pocketmags.