ON a day of surprises in Super League, York City Knights pulled off a result of similar shock value in the Championship by beating Featherstone 24-16 at Huntington Stadium – winger Nat Browne scoring two tries on debut just days after being released by Rovers.
The Knights, shorn of their dual-registration players from Hull and without four props in Craig Potter, Luke Stenchion, Adam Sullivan and recent recruit Nathan Freer, were down to the bare bones.
It meant boss Gary Thornton handed a debut not only to Browne, but also former Milford amateur Jack Pickles, after just a few run-outs for the under-20s, while youngster Tyler Craig also made his seasonal bow.
Thornton then watched on as his troops overturned the odds to deservedly topple the perennial title-challengers, who had been eager to bounce back to winning ways after their 100 per cent start to the season had ended at Sheffield.
York, beaten so disappointingly at Keighley last time out, fell behind here too after Ben Hellewell, who spent a short time on dual-registration at Huntington Stadium last season, got on the end of a clever Liam Finn kick. But prop Matty Nicholson, who goes in for shoulder surgery next week which will sideline him for several months, signed off by leading an eight-minute three-try salvo that put the Knights in control.
He first bulldozed over, then embarked on a break that led to Browne’s first try. A superb Jack Latus run soon set up Browne’s second.
A comeback looked on the cards when, after Matty Dale had a try controversially wiped off, Rovers scored tries either side of half-time through Greg Worthington and Andy Bostock.
But Kriss Brining smartly stretched over to bolster York’s advantage, with Tom Carr, released by Rovers in the off-season, adding his fourth conversion from four attempts.
York City Knights: Carr, Browne, Ford, Latus, Haynes, Brown, Presley, Nicholson, Lee, Aldous, Scott, Pickles, Smith. Substitutes:Brining, Iley, Bell, Craig.
Featherstone Rovers: Hardman, Saxton, Hellewell, Worthington, Hodson, Briggs, Finn, England, Ellis, James, Lockwood, Bussey, Dale. Substitutes: Crossley, Bostock, Bryan, Kain.
Referee: Gareth Hewer (Whitehaven).