York City Knights 144-0 West Wales Raiders
After their tightly fought Challenge Cup clash against Catalans Dragons last weekend, York City Knights faced a very different challenge today as they played host to West Wales Raiders, the bottom team of the third tier and one who have a negative points difference to match.
It was to surely be a test of professionalism and integrity for the Knights team who, before kick off, were sharing top spot with Bradford and Doncaster with only points difference keeping them off the top. In the build up to the game, coach James Ford played down thoughts of running riot, explaining that “we just want to make sure we hit our standards” when speaking to the York Press. He further revealed that talk of racking up tries would be “a ridiculous mindset,” but what followed at Bootham Crescent was just that.
As the Knights ran in 25 tries and kicked 22 conversions, they shattered the previous record for biggest win in rugby league history as they pummelled West Wales 144-0. Australian loanee Kieren Moss crossed seven tries for York – equalling a York RL record set in 1995 – as former Super League forward Graeme Horne and half back Connor Robinson both scoring hat-tricks for the in-form team. The Knights opened the scoring in the first minute after the Raiders spilled the kick off, former Heworth player Liam Jackson crossing. Robinson’s kick hit the post but that simply opened the floodgates for the hosts.
60-0 up at half-time, some fans may have been concerned about professionalism dropping and motivation lacking. However, Ford’s men performed superbly as they scored seemingly at will, with more points in the second stanza than the first. It is, again, a testament to the ethos at the Minster city club that they maintained professionalism throughout and, while the Raiders defence was rather porous at times, there wasn’t any indication of showboating or disrespect to the Welshmen.
Such was the ease at which York were cantering to victory, key pivot Connor Robinson was taken off with roughly a quarter of the match remaining. That led to Ash Robson taking over kicking duties and, in doing so, emerged as a rival of Robinson for the role, ending with a 100% conversion rate from his eight attempts. It became clear that records were going to tumble quite early in the piece but it was Robson himself who crossed for the last try in the 79th minute – which he converted – to finish the job and a remarkably rewarding afternoon for the Knights was complete. The result took the club top of Betfred League One, unsurprisingly, on points difference.
The biggest cheer of the afternoon came when captain Adam Robinson crossed in the 68th minute. Moments before, awaiting a kick off, he responded to the crowd questioning him over how many he had scored – responding with a zero gesture. As he left the field following his try, he proudly raised one finger as the crowd chanted his name.
There is frankly very little that West Wales could take as a positive from the game but it should be commended that, even when staring humiliation square in the face, they didn’t resort to spoiling tactics or brutality – they tried to play in the way the game should be. They didn’t give up but were clearly outclassed in every possible way.
York, however, will be enjoying a second week in the headlines following last Sunday’s match against Catalans but they are sure to face a much tougher task next weekend in the shape of rivals Hunslet.
York City Knights: Moss, Robson, Butler-Fleming, Hey, Mazive, C Robinson, Jackson, A Robinson, Smith, Hawksworth, Batchelor, Kelly, Porter.
Interchanges: Jubb, Siddons, Dixon, Horne
Tries: Jackson (1), Moss (10,28,46,52,54,66,74), Robinson (12,25), Hey (14), Porter (16), Robson (18,79), Batchelor (30), Dixon (32,77), Horne (34,44,50), Mazive (41), Smith (58,70), Kelly (60), Robinson (68)
Conversions: Robinson (13,15,17,19,26,31,33,35,42,45,48,51,53,55,59), Robson (61,67,69,71,75,78,80)
West Wales Raiders: Ward, Claridge, Walker, L Smith, J Smith, Williams, Parry, Elliott, Harris, Boots, Snook, Lewis, Bonehill.
Interchanges: Hunter, Kelly, Kaye, Simon