Two sides in the top half of the table met for the final game in round ten of the Betfred Championship as third placed York City Knights made a long Bank Holiday Monday trip across country to Cumbria to take on the Barrow Raiders who came into the game in sixth place but with a chance of closing the gap on the sides above them.
The smart money was on a City Knights win with the bookies giving Barrow a fourteen-point start on the handicap coupon, a strong expectation before kick-off that York would pick up their seventh win of the season.
It was high speed stuff from York early on as they set out their stall but on five minutes, and their first set in the York half, Anthony Iaria rode and tackle and stretched for the line to ground under the sticks. Jarrad Sammut added the conversion for a great start for the home side, a little against the run of play.
On ten minutes the City Knights responded as Joe Brown intercepted a wayward pass and went fifty metres to score under the posts and give Liam Harris a simple conversion to level the scores.
Fast hands from York on twenty minutes saw Will Oakes take the ball on the overlap to go in from ten metres out but Harris was unable to add the touchline conversion, the City Knights edging themselves into the lead.
A fabulous reverse kick from Sammut on twenty-five was picked up on the first bounce by Luke Cresswell in a planned move, with the full back grounding to level the scores, Barrow edging back in front thanks to the Sammut conversion.
Another superb York try, with a Harris chip over the top being collected and grounded in one action by Matty Marsh on the half hour mark, the lead changing hands again with Harris adding the extras for 16-12.
Three minutes before the interval the City Knights doubled their lead with Jordan Thompson taking a short pass from Will Jubb to go through a hole in the Barrow defence to score. Harris added the conversion to put York into the sheds with a ten-point advantage.
Great pressure from Barrow, with three sets in the York twenty, couldn´t produce the points thanks to fantastic goal line defence from York.
When York finally broke out of their own half on fifty-eight a loose pass led to an eighty metre Tee Ritson break, but he was hauled down short but on the last tackle of the set Barrow forced a goal line dropout but again the York defence held firm.
On sixty-six Liam Harris broke the second half deadlock with a dummy right and scoot from acting half back to go in for a try to crush Barrow spirits and seal the York win. Harris added the conversion for 28-12.
A high tackle from a tiring Barrow gave Harris a fifth goal of the evening for 30-12.
A late consolation from Gary Wheeler, finding space down the right hand side at the end of a nice passing move to push his tackler over the line to score. Sammut added the conversion quickly to reduce the arrears to twelve points but with just three minutes left it was just a matter of reducing the arrears.
It is now six in a row for the City Knights as they maintain the pressure on the top two but it wasn´t a walk in the park against a determined Barrow side who laid siege to their long periods of the second half. The game was much closer than the score line suggests and the Cumbrians can hold their heads up high, but the York defenders higher still. Featherstone and Leigh will be looking nervously over their shoulders as York chase them down.
Barrow Raiders: Cresswell (T), Ritson, Wheeler (T), Shaw, Toal, Carter, Sammut (3G), Brooks, Wood, Gillam, Langtree, Stack, Iaria (T). Subs: Wells, Mossop, Emslie, Eseh.
York City Knights: Marsh (T), Brown (T), Glover, Ogden, Oakes (T), O´Hagan. Harris (T, 5G), Matongo, Jubb, Pauli, Clarkson, Kirmond, Thompson (T). Subs: Ellis, Dixon, Porter, Teanby.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 6-4, 6-6, 6-10, 10-10, 12-10, 12-14, 12-16, 12-20, 12-22 : HT : 12-26, 12-28, 12-30, 16-30, 18-30 : FT.
Referee: Mike Smaill.