York City Knights Match Report by Joshua Chapman (@Chapalar)
Following the previous week’s victory over Workington Town at Cougar Park, The Cougars travelled north across Yorkshire for another six pointer against the York City Knights.
The only changes from the previous week’s victory over the Workington Town saw Daley Williams take the place off Gavin Duffy on the right wing and Sean Hesketh start at prop which saw Jode Sheriffe drop down to join the interchanges.
The Cougars couldn’t have got off to a worse start as the kick off bobbled across the pitch before bouncing over Elliott Cosgrove and into touch winning the Knights a scrum without a ball even being played. The Knights threatened to get over early but were abruptly halted as Dougie Flockhart failed to collect on the wing allowing the ball to go into touch.
The Cougars with their first set showed some of the attacking prowess from the previous week with a well worked play by Buster sending James Haley and then Paul White flying down the wing before Scott Leatherbarrow kicked early allowing the Knights to attack but the break of their own was halted with Paul March leading a somewhat solid Cougars defence before George Elliott was caught out in touch following a kick by Simon Brown.
The Cougars showed some clever play with Joe Chandler being halted by some thunderous City Knights defence and were forced to continue with twelve men for a short period after Dougie Flockhart was left down following a challenge by Elliott Cosgrove and Elliott then surrendered possession following not one but two knock ons after being hunted down by the once again thunderous defence.
The Cougars were forced to defend on their own line with Jack Latus being halted on two separate occasions before Dougie Flockhart was pushed into touch by a now shaky defensive Cougars outfit. The Cougars wanted to push for the first score and showed this with James Haley using his experience to control the attacking play before Scott Leatherbarrow kicked and chased it down well to catch the heavily involved Flockhart early.
The Knights however got themselves another scrum with the bobble of the pitch catching Danny Jones out just ten metres from his own line allowing the hosts another attacking play. With the players on dual registration from Hull FC controlling the play the Cougars needed to defend with all their might and had to do it tough with big man Nathan Freer regularly sent charging in before Jack Lee was held up resulting in the turnover.
The Cougars possession was once again a short one with the Knights tightening up each and every time they had to defend and won a scrum after forcing a knock on from Brendon Rawlins but James Haley forced a drop ball for Paul White to get away, if he hadn’t of been stopped by the quick thinking Jack Briscoe and the proceeded to continue the knock on a thon developing after Scott Leatherbarrow and the Knights then broke sending the ball out to George Elliott who cut inside and crossed underneath the sticks. Tom Carr then converted.
The Knights continued to pressure from the restart and forced a goal line dropout with Danny Jones being pushed back in goal by the Knights defence after a drubber kick on the last by Ben Johnston. York then sent big unit Nathan Freer in to make metres and this was proving a handy tool before the Knights won another scrum after a Ben Johnston kick was spilled by Brendon Rawlins.
From the resulting scrum, the Knights pressed with Jack Latus and Jack Aldous both pushing the Cougars defence and would have found themselves in for another try if Jack Briscoe hadn’t of spilled the ball under some heavy James Haley pressure.
The Cougars were being made to work hard by the Knights defensive and attacking onslaught and showed this throughout with the bobbly surface and scorching heat also proving problematic for Paul March’s outfit. But a Scott Leatherbarrow kick nearly came to fruition with Flockhart and Tom Carr getting wires mixed only avoiding being caught in goal as Carr dived through the gap between Scott Leatherbarrow and Elliott Cosgrove.
The Cougars kept attacking to draw level and nearly got a penalty but Daley Williams showed no fear and handed Flockhart off the field of play as he flew in with a high shot but the Knights held out and following regaining of possession kicked early with the Cougars defensive wall now returning to a solid unit and the Cougars attacking wise continued to fall apart with Buster knocking on in the tackle after a big hit from Liam Kent.
The Knights then started to win penalties on consecutive basis with Andy Shickell being penalised over and over for interference in the tackle and Jack Latus nearly punished Shick for these indiscretions only to be greeted on the line by Paul March and Sean Hesketh before the Cougars were caught in goal following a Paul White steal in the tackle.
The Knights constantly threatened to tear the Cougars apart with clever passes in attack and monstrous challenges in defence and did this with Sam Scott breaking the Cougars line and going underneath the sticks to double the home side’s advantage after another easy conversion for Tom Carr.
The Cougars began to get frail and looked somewhat scared of what the York outfit were throwing their direction and this situation wasn’t helped by the Knights tight defence forcing Scott Leatherbarrow to kick early on two separate occasions which allowed the home side to constantly return the ball and hit even harder than in the previous challenges.
The Cougars then boiled over after a late shot by the Knights defender allowed Paul March & Oliver Pursglove to see red and after the heated confrontation was brought to and after a real fist fight, Pursglove and the Knights offender, Simon Brown, sent to the sin bin by match official George Stokes.
Paul March was now public enemy number one with the Knights rather vocal faithful and was booed throughout following the 31 man brawl with featured coaches and interchanges alike and the Cougars were halted on the line by the Knights defence before they retained possession after a penalty following a massive hit on Elliott Cosgrove. The half was then brought to an end after some in the tackle fisticuffs by Dean Hadley and Joe Chandler.
The Cougars came out for the second half looking like a completely different outfit forcing a Knights error before being held up on the line twice with Elliott Cosgrove and Joe Chandler being held short off the line before Scott Law was held up over the line underneath the posts before the Knights nearly broke free with Brendon Rawlins going unpunished for a silly late high shot on the oncoming attacker.
The Knights then got themselves a scrum after a clever kick by Ben Johnston and the Cougars nearly got lucky and got their first score but Elliott Cosgrove spilled and down the other end the Knights nearly got some luck of their own after Paul White was well hunted down by George Elliott who knocked on after pinching the ball.
The Cougars then spilled the ball and Dougie Flockhart ran sixty metres to cross underneath the sticks only to look bemused when the referee had halted play and pulled it back seventy metres for the original knock on in the tackle by Elliott Cosgrove. Then for the first time in the game there was nothing of note before some clever play saw George Elliott caught the ball and ran eighty metres unchallenged to cross. Tom Carr then sliced the conversion narrowly wide of the posts.
The Knights restarted the relentless pressure on the Cougars attack and forced a knock on in the tackle from Daley Williams which allowed the hosts another attack and another chance to cross the Cougars line and this nearly paid off before George Elliott was caught short and thrown into touch by Buster and Brendon Rawlins.
The Cougars were then awarded a penalty immediately after the scrum following a late shot by Jack Aldous which was met by sarcastic cheers and applause from the travelling Cougars support and the Cougars finally registered a score with Andy Shickell taking three Knights defenders with him to cross next to the posts. Scott Leatherbarrow then converted to bring the Cougars within ten of the home side.
Elliott Cosgrove broke the Cougars line from the restart and this allowed the visitors to make some valuable metres and then just ten metres from the line, Tom Carr and George Elliott got their wires crossed with allowed James Haley to break the line and cross for the Cougars second try in as many minutes before Scott Leatherbarrow then converted.
The first real show of what the Cougars are capable off ruffled the Knights feathers and were let off the hook as a narrowly forward pass meant that Elliott Cosgrove’s try, which would have been the Cougars third in four minutes, was ruled out by the match official and the Knights then broke forward before James Feather pinched the ball and knocked on allowing for the hosts to have a scrum.
The Knights pushed forward before Jack Lee knocked on in the tackle, but to the amusement off the supporters of both Knights and Cougars, the referee ruled in favour of a ball steal with allowed the hosts to have a fresh set of six on the visitor’s line and this came to fruition with some sloppy defence allowed Joe Pickets to squeeze over for the hosts. Tom Carr then converted to open the gap back up to ten.
The sides then began to exchange possession on a regular bases with both opting to kick early on their opening sets from the restart before Josh Lynam and Paul March exchanged possession on a fantastic seventy metre break before Scott Leatherbarrow’s kick into goal found its way into touch with neither James Haley nor Daley Williams capable of reaching the ball.
The Knights began to tighten up defensively once again which began to become problematic once again for Paul March and his Cougars side but play was stopped with Andy Shickell and Dean Hadley deciding to exchange blows in back play which brought the game to a halt.
The Knights regained possession from this and following another penalty threatened to cross the Cougars line but Tom Carr zigzagged his way into Elliott Cosgrove but the Knights power plays came into effect once again before a kick on the last forced an error from James Feather allowed the Knights another set from which Jack Aldous crossed once again. Tom Carr then converted to take the Cougars out of bonus point range.
The Cougars then found themselves with a rare attack on the Knights line and got consecutive sets on the home sides line for the first time in the game following the hosts giving away a rather sloppy penalty before Dougie Flockhart got a touch on the ball as it left the field of play to give the Cougars a scrum and a third consecutive set.
The Cougars threatened to cross and nick a bonus point with Scott Law and Elliott Cosgrove being held up short of the line by a tough Knights defence and the Cougars threw away a chance of a bonus point with some sloppy play allowing the visitors another set of six late into the afternoon and this paid off with Dougie Flockhart breaking and racing sixty metres unchallenged to cross to finish off the game. Tom Carr then missed his conversion.
Yorkshire Times Cougars Man of the Match – James Haley – The centre was made to defend ferociously throughout with the Knights constantly putting an onslaught on the Cougars defensive and Cougars line. But when the visitors got a rare attack he led by example holding up play, playing clever balls and grabbing himself a try in the process.
Cougars: Jones, Williams, Haley, Cosgrove, White, March, Leatherbarrow, Shickell, Feather, Hesketh, Pursglove, Chandler, Rawlins. Interchanges: Law, Jode Sheriffe, Parkinson, Lynam.
Knights: Carr, Elliott, Latus, Briscoe, Flockhart, Brown, Johnston, Freer, Lee, Aldous, Pickets, Hadley, Scott. Interchanges: Presley, Sullivan, Kent, Brining.