York take advantage of Keighley stumble to climb to second spot

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YORK City Knights rose to second in League One after they returned home from their first trip to Coventry Bears’ Butts Park Arena with this win.

Coach James Ford bemoaned a drop in focus as his much-changed line-up struggled to fully hit their straps against an expansion club in their maiden season of professional rugby league.

However, they leapfrogged Keighley on points difference after the Cougars lost their top-of-the-table clash at Oldham and, while they remain four points behind the Roughyeds, they have a game in hand.

The introduction of replacement props Micky Learmonth and Brad Nicholson coincided with their upturn in fortunes after an even opening quarter.

A set move ended with Josh Tonks superbly breaking through, Jordan Howden adding the first of his three conversions.

Four minutes later, Howden burst through a gap and sent in Liam Cunningham.

On 32 minutes the Knights scored the try of the match as Jonny Presley’s superb run followed by Pat Smith’s nifty pass saw Nicholson touch down for an 18-0 interval lead.

The Bears did threaten, but when York broke out of their half, the home defence got stretched and the attack ended with Pat Smith finding a route to the whitewash, Adam Dent goaling.

Brother Ed Smith was the next to cross, and, on the other side of the hour-mark, Harry Carter made it 34-0.

The hooker had kicked a 40-20 and, after Ryan Mallinder was held just short, he somehow fought his way over. Dent, in his first outing since the Challenge Cup tie at St Helens in May, added his second goal.

The victory was sealed but York blew the chance of a second successive clean sheet when conceding a curious Coventry try 10 minutes from time.

Cunningham did well to escape his in-goal area as he reached over the whitewash.

However, he bizarrely let go of the ball on the ground and, while he looked at the referee awaiting a penalty for interference, Bears half-back Joel James picked it up and put it down over the try-line.

In a scrappy finale, Dan Parker got a second home try, plus the conversion, before Mallinder struck back at the other end on the hooter, with both defences claiming neither player had actually touched down.

Coventry Bears: Bass, Holton, Phillips, Taylor, Dixon, Price, James, J Morrison, Hughes, Unsworth, Cooper, Barratt, Parker. Substitutes: Hack, Thompson, Bale, Evans.

York City Knights: Howden, N Morrison, Cunningham, Craig, A Dent, Presley, P Smith, Applegarth, Carter, Aldous, Tonks, E Smith, Mallinder. Substitutes: Canterbury, Hey, Nicholson, Learmonth.

Referee: J Roberts (RFL)