Brave Knights fall short against Wolfpack despite terrific defensive display.

Newly-promoted York welcomed the Toronto Wolfpack to Bootham Crescent on Super Sunday as the Betfred Championship kicked off in style.

Last seasons League One Champions were looking to shock the Wolfpack, who boasted all six of their off-season signings.

Joe Mellor was in the halves alongside captain Josh McCrone with Jon Wilkin and Ricky Leutele starting for the Canadian side.

York also welcome Kriss Brining back to the side, with Matty Marsh and Liam Salter now playing for the club as permanent signings as they look to continue their unbeaten home streak. The last team to beat them was Bradford Bulls back in Round One of last season.

The opening seven minutes were extremely dominant from Toronto Wolfpack as they picked up the pace with the ball in hand.

Rain started to fall in York and Toronto were struggling to keep the ball in hand with Gareth O’Brien dropping the ball just a few metres for the Knights line.

The Wolfpack did get the ball over the line but Matty Russell knocked the ball on as he looked to offload to Ricky Leutele on the inside.

York then stepped up in defence with Ben Cockayne smashing Gareth O’Brien after a good kick chase. The Knights the forced a knock-on the give them good field position. The resulting set came to nothing as Toronto held the scores at 0-0.

Toronto crossed the line for a second time but Adam Sidlow was held up by the Knights defence after crashing through.

The 23rd minutes was when the first try was scored and it was Toronto who scored it. A scrum 10 metres out meant the ball could be spread from left to right to Chase Stanley who passed out the back to Gary Wheeler who dived over in the corner. O’Brien was unsuccessful with the boot at Toronto led by four points.

After 30 minutes the Wolfpack were still up by an unconverted try but the home-side looked to get back into the game. However, as they attacked the Toronto line, Liam Salter knocked the ball on in the tackle.

The Wolfpack tried to play champagne rugby against the Knights as they looked to extend their lead and it nearly worked. Leutele and Russell were in a two on one down the left and the centre backed himself but was held up over the line by four York players.

York had one final play in the first half to score but it came to nothing and the half-time whistle was blown.

HALF-TIME: York City Knights 0-4- Toronto Wolfpack

York were pressuring the Wolfpack early in the second half as they camped inside the Toronto half. Powering themselves down the centre of the pitch gave them a good platform to attack the try-line but the fifth tackle play was snuffed out by Jon Wilkin.

Toronto managed to turn the game back in their favour with multiple back-to-back sets inside York half. However, the York City Knights try-line defence held on strong and denied the Wolfpack any points.

With the hour mark approaching the Wolfpack looked like they would finally break the Knights resolve but Jack Teanby reacted quickly to deny Joe Mellors grubber from getting in behind.

York’s defensive masterclass continued throughout the second-half and the pressure was getting to the Wolfpack with Mellor knocking on 20 metres from the Knights line.

A barnstorming run from Jack Teanby nearly produced a try from York but Gary Wheeler scooped the ball up and escaped from his own in-goal area.

Matty Russell was given the opportunity to open his scoring account for 2019 as Bodene Thompson switched the ball to the short side but the powerful winger was ushered into touch by multiple Knights players.

After holding Andy Ackers up over the line, the Knights wall was finally breached as Matty Russell found himself with plenty of room and scored from 10 metres out to make it 8-0 to the away side after 68 minutes.

Gareth O’Brien was once again unsuccessful with the conversion as York City Knights were still in with a chance with 10 minutes remaining.

The Knights heads seemed to drop with that Toronto try and Matty Russell was in once again on the left-hand edge. However, the referee, Gareth Hewer, deemed that the winger was in touch before he grounded the ball and made the correct call without having to go to the TMO.

With less than five minutes remaining York were hoping to score a try of their own but the class of the full-time Toronto stood out against their part-time opponents and scored a third try of the afternoon.

A Gareth O’Brien grubber kick bounced in the hands of Joe Mellor who grounded the ball behind the posts. O’Brien finally successful from the tee to make it 0-14 to the Wolfpack in what was an unconvincing win for the Canadians.

FULL-TIME: York City Knights 0-14 Toronto Wolfpack

MAN OF THE MATCH – Connor Robinson

The York City Knights half-back was unlucky to be on the losing side. His kicking game was outstanding and he managed to drill the ball deep into Wolfpack territory. He was solid in defence and did not miss many tackles.


York City Knights:

Matthew Marsh, Ash Robson, Jason Bass, Brad Hey, Perry Whiteley, Ben Cockayne, Connor Robinson, Graeme Horne, Will Jubb, Jack Teanby, Josh Jordan-Roberts, Liam Salter, Dave Petersen.

Subs: Kristian Brining, Jack Blagbrough, Ronan Dixon, Joe Porter.

Toronto Wolfpack:

Gareth O’Brien, Matty Russell, Chase Stanley, Ricky Leutele, Gary Wheeler, Joe Mellor, Josh McCrone, Ashton Sims, Andy Ackers, Tom Olbison, Andrew Dixon, Bodene Thompson, Jon Wilkin.

Subs: Blake Wallace, Darcy Lussick, Adam Sidlow, Gadwin Springer.


Gary Wheeler, Matty Russell, Joe Mellor


Gareth O’Brien (1/3)



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