'Leigh were rattled': York Knights boss Andrew Henderson proud of part-timers after gutsy defeat

York Knights head coach Andrew Henderson has expressed his pride after seeing his depleted team give Leigh Leopards an almighty fright in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals.

The Championship part-timers – shorn of a dozen players amid an injury crisis – had Super League high-flyers Leigh on the ropes at half-time following Kai O'Donnell's early red card for a spear tackle.

York still held a 14-6 lead approaching the final quarter but the Leopards' superior fitness told late on as they claimed a ninth straight win to book a semi-final meeting with St Helens.

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Henderson could not fault his team's performance in the 34-14 defeat at the LNER Community Stadium.

"I'm a very proud man," he said.

"I thought it was a wonderful effort from one to 17. It was a patched-up team, as it has been for most of this season for York Knights.

"We had a number of players playing out of position and lacked those pivotal players in certain positions. We had a lot of youth out there – both centres 19 years of age and both wingers 19 years of age.

"It's a real credit to that young side to battle the way they did and really give Leigh a fright.

York Knight put in a brave showing against Leigh Leopards. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)York Knight put in a brave showing against Leigh Leopards. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)
York Knight put in a brave showing against Leigh Leopards. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)
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"You could argue that Leigh getting reduced to 12 men early in the game helped us but you've still got a job to do.

"The last 20 minutes was always going to be tough for us and that full-time versus part-time was always going to raise its ugly head."

York are 12th in the Championship but could yet end the season with silverware after being handed an 1895 Cup semi-final date with Batley Bulldogs.

Henderson has told his team to bottle up Sunday's performance and use it as a springboard.

York’s Myles Harrison celebrates his try with Ronan Michael. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)York’s Myles Harrison celebrates his try with Ronan Michael. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)
York’s Myles Harrison celebrates his try with Ronan Michael. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)

"I did feel Leigh were rattled," he added.

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"Chris Chester and Derek Beaumont mentioned that to me at the end of the game. They were biting their nails and really worried at half-time thinking, 'Wow, this isn't going how we thought it would go'.

"I told the players to remember this feeling and the atmosphere and big-game experience.

"We've got the opportunity to have that in the 1895 Cup. That should give us enough motivation to get to Wembley and win it."

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