York 42 Doncaster 10: Johnston leads Knights’ response with hat-trick against Doncaster

Scrum-half Ben Johnston’s first-half hat-trick paved the way for an emphatic response to York City Knight coach Gary Thornton’s demand for substantial improvement following a recent run of dire results.

Johnston, on loan from Castleford, fired the bullets but it was playmaker Simon Brown’s kicking game that ensured Doncaster were continually playing off the back foot despite talking an early lead with Lee Waterman neatly side-stepping the defence from Paul Cooke’s pass.

But a magnificent 50-metre break, initiated and ultimately superbly finished by Johnston, set the scene as the half-back then twisted and turned from acting half to ground the ball before superb support play saw Jack Lee break the Don’s defence and saw the youngster run the diagonal to score again.

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York’s dominance continued as Dean Hadley eagerly anticipated Brown’s fine trickled kick for the dual-registered player to score and ensure they left the field at the break leading 24-4.

Doncaster showed greater spirit after the re-start and again it was Cooke’s pass that created the opening with Mike Emmett hitting the ball at pace to score.

But again York had the majority of both territorial advantage and possession with Jack Lee scoring a typical hooker’s try from acting half closely followed by Tom Carr’s fine touchdown in the corner after Brown’s kick again forced the error to concede possession.

With the game already in the bag Jonny Presley danced around the defence and Liam Kent’s bullet pass saw winger George Elliott touch down seconds before the final hooter.

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York City Knights: Carr, Elliott, Latus, Briscoe, Flockart, Brown, Johnston, Freer, Lee, Aldous, Kent, Hadley, Scott. Substitutes: Presley, Brinning, Sullivan, Stenchion.

Doncaster: Waterman, Sanderson, Cowling, Kay, Tuffour, Cooke, Fawcett, Castle, Kesik, Waller, Kelly, Spurr, Emmett. Substitutes: Powley, Scott, Carbutt, Leaf.

Referee: J Leahy (RFL).

Daniel Davies and Warren Thompson picked up a pair of tries each as Rochdale Hornets eased to a 40-22 Championship 1 win over Hemel Stags.

John Clough bagged a brace of tries as Oxford edged out Gateshead 27-22 in a tight Championship 1 clash, while Oldham moved into third place with a 30-22 victory over London Skolars.

North Wales Crusaders maintained their 100 per cent start to the Championship 1 season with a 66-4 victory over winless Gloucestershire All Golds.