By Sebastian Sternik
Courage, heart, passion. York City Knights showed it all as they became the first ever side to do the impossible and beat the Toronto Wolfpack in a league game.
Liam Harris, Jake Butler-Flemming and Connor Robinson all scored for the Knights with Robinson also kicking 10 points.
League One’s top try scorer, Craig Hall, Ryan Brierley and Robert Beswick were on all the scoresheet for the Wolfpack who saw their unbeaten run come to an end after an impressive 16 games.
It was an absolute thriller down at the Bootham Crescent which was seen by a record crowd of over 2,600.
Speaking after the game York City Knight’s head coach, James Ford said: “Toronto are a fantastic side and we had to work immensely hard for each other in that game.
“We got over the line today and the boys will enjoy themselves tonight. Then on Tuesday we come back and we go again as we have another big game this week.”
Toronto’s assistant coach, Simon Finnigan, also reflected on the result and said: “I thought it was a good game of rugby. York played well, they’re a good team and they have aspirations of getting promoted as well.
“Our execution wasn’t great. Our last plays weren’t great either but you can’t take anything away from them [York], they were fantastic.
“We lost one game of rugby league, the world’s not gonna end. Everyone say’s we’re gonna go unbeaten but no one behind closed doors thought that. This is professional sport and these are competitive people.”
The Knights got out of the blocks quickly and weren’t afraid to take the game to the league leaders. Their early dominance soon paid off as with 15 minutes on the clock, Jake Butler-Flemming went over to give the home side a well-earned lead.
Only three minutes later James Laithwaitte thought he put the visitors on the scoreboard however, Ryan Brierley’s pass was deemed forward and therefore no try was given.
York capitalised and scored again, this time through Liam Harris. Toronto lost possession and their concentration as Harris picked the ball off the ground and burst over the try line. Things got much worse for the Pack as they were no longer 12-0 down but also a man down with Brierley heading into the sin bin.
Despite that, Toronto worked hard to try and get back into the game but a massive defensive effort from James Ford’s side prevented them from getting on the scoreboard at all.
With only a few minutes remaining until half-time, Harris scored again for the Knights. A clever dummy worked wonders for the Stand Off who then powered over for his second of the game.
As the half-time whistle blew, the Knights players were treated to a standing ovation as the 2,600 strong couldn’t believe what they were seeing.
At the start of the second half, those fans were brought straight back down to earth. Brierley, who already had an eventful game, was the scorer after a brilliant passing display from the Wolfpack.
Moments later Toronto pulled the score back to just eight points as Robert Beswick capitalised on another great set by the traveling side.
A Connor Robinson penalty goal made it 20-12 for York but it was the visitors with the momentum. The next set saw Craig Hall go over from dummy half. Bradley Hey and Joe Batchelor looked furious as they couldn’t stop the Centre from scoring and making it 20-16.
At this stage many of the supporters began to think that York’s best had come and gone. But what they didn’t know was that York’s best was yet to come.
With Jack Bussey sent to the bin, York utilised the man advantage with devastating effect. The Knights produced some super rugby which saw Harris release Robinson through a gap down the centre. The Scrum Half powered down the middle leaving the Toronto defence in the dust, and scored a well-deserved try.
That was it. That was the final blow which earned York an unbelievable 26-16 victory. A record crowd at the York City ground certainly enjoyed every minute of this thriller and will no doubt be looking forward to next week’s game with Keighley.
Toronto, on the other hand, will be preparing for another tough game against Workington. They’ll be hoping that this latest defeat is indeed their last one this term.