Skip to content

York Knights 12-19 Widnes Vikings – Vikings conquer Knights in Yorkshire.

The opening weekend of the 2023 Betfred Championship saw a clash between two sides with legitimate playoff hopes for autumn square off in the February chill. Last season saw York land the final playoff, but they will hope to go further this season after a disappointing hammering by eventual winners Leigh in the semifinal. By contrast, Widnes’ eighth place finish came down to their point difference, with a -112 seeing them finish below last season’s foundation of the year winners Sheffield Eagles. After a summer of changes for both clubs, they looked to hit the ground running, and lay down an early statement of intent.

The opening stanza was somewhat expected for an opening day fixture, no one wants to be the first person to make an error leading to a cagy first five minutes. That all changed when Tom Gilmore provided an expert chip and chase to open up the Knights defense but they regained their composure superbly to defend.

Widnes looked the bigger attacking threat in the early stages, with Kieran Dixon looking like a particularly lively option on the wing, but it was his compatriot on the other side Ryan Millar who secured the opening try of the match at the ten-minute mark, after a lofted pass was not dealt with by York, Gilmore was unable to convert the kick keeping the score at 0-4.

The restart saw York come out much more aggressive, but still struggling to deal with the psychically of loose forward Liam Bent. A clearance from Widnes saw Joe Brown ground the ball and the resulting scrum again saw Widnes advance further, with strongman Bent in amongst the action again but York survived the test well.

Some great composure by Liam Harris saw a great chance for York but a high pass was intercepted and Widnes charged forward once more. Widnes moving the ball nicely from right to left, their quick turns of pace proving troublesome for the York defense.

A quick scrum gets turned over and York go on the attack resulting in a huge chance for Harris, but Millar was equal to it and the ball was grounded for a scrum.

York got their breakthrough on the 29th minute after the ball was slipped through to Danny Kirmond, and he pounced first to secure York’s first try of the day which was converted by James Glover making the score 6-4 to the home side.

A scrappy end to the half was punctuated by a late scrum deep in the Widnes half, but the never say die attitude of the Vikings was on show as with less than a minute to go in the first half they were still grinding down at York refusing to give up an inch of territory.

There was plenty to contemplate at half time. A 6-4 scoreline was somewhat unkind to Widnes who were largely the better team and defensively excellent for large periods of the game, York were scrappy and took their chances excellently with Danny Kirmond playing a superb first half in particular, scoring the try to see them go into half time in the lead.

The second half began and a quick mistake by Matty Marsh resulted in a scrum deep in the heart of York territory. Gilmore evened up the scores three minutes into the second half, as a tip tackle on Bent gave the Widnes man a chance at redemption which he took with open arms, leveling the scores at 6-6.

Whatever was said by John Kear at halftime must have worked as Widnes came out for the second half with a point to prove, the slick side to side movement came back and once again Widnes looked the better side.

Shane Grady capitalized on the upbeat energy in the Widnes camp, as he broke free on a short ball close to the line, Gilmore for the second time in the match could not secure the conversion leaving the score at 6-10.

One moment of magic is all York needed to get back into the match on the 56th minute, a superb turn of pace from Joe Brown to latch onto a through ball sees the big man touch down and the scores level, to add to the good fortune Glover converts bring the score to 12-10.

The home side became much more lively as the second half carried on, however Widnes would draw blood once again, with Ant Walker scoring a try in the 69th minute after a brief goalmouth scramble, Jack Owens was on conversion duty for that one and the decision paid off seeing the ball fly safely between the posts to make the score 12-16.

Jack Owens was in the action once again as he converted a penalty to stretch the lead to 12-18.

The final five minutes saw York come out with a real attacking purpose. Knowing one moment of magic could change the game, the Knights gave everything they had to find a winner.

But their hearts were broken two minutes from time as a sustained attack from Widnes resulted in a drop goal for Gilmore to see the end of the contest.

Full Time: York Knights 12-19 Widnes Vikings

What do you think?