ALTHOUGH they had players missing, Knottingley still had too much in their locker for newly-promoted league rivals Barnsley in a 28-9 win in Saturday’s first round Yorkshire RU Shield tie.
It was only the penalty count against the hosts that kept their opponents in with any chance of getting anything out of the game. But they were kept tryless thanks to some tremendous defence.
With this being Knottingley’s first game, having had no friendlies, it was a stop-start scrappy affair littered with mistakes, the heavy rain and slippery surface not helping with the handling.
Both teams started cautiously, using their kicking game to try and force errors and gain good field position. Barnsley nudged ahead with a seventh minute penalty before the hosts looked to reply with a Craig Field tilt followed on by Michael Ash’s break backed up by Adam Jones, but the visitors defended the threat.
A second penalty made it 6-0 on 20 minutes, but Knottingley hit back five minutes later when Mick Piper landed a three-pointer.
This gave them a spur and their game improved significantly as they took a lead that they would keep. Following a good build-up from the forwards, Field found winger Paul Rockett and he raced in at the corner for an unconverted try.
Just before the break Piper landed another penalty and the hosts held an 11-6 lead at half-time.
The second half saw Barnsley close the gap with a penalty before Knottingley went on to play the better rugby.
They went close as Paul Rockett’s break found centre Ash in support to carry on the move to breach the defence.
However, finding another support player, the ball was spilled and the chance lost.
They did increase the lead soon after through the boot of Piper with a penalty and a second try followed on 64 minutes when Jamie Milton received a kick and took the ball back up field, handing on to Kris Whata, who blasted his way through. Field carried the move on and Ash crashed over for a fine try converted by Piper to make it 21-9.
Now controlling the game, Knottingley went further in front as Ash made an initial break, Nathan French romped through and found Jones, who finished the move at the side of the posts.
Piper’s goal completed the scoring although Barnsley did force some late pressure after receiving numerous penalties.
Try as they might the visitors could not unlock the determined Knottingley defence and time ran out for them in their chase for a consolation try.
In a scrappy performance two players stood out for Knottingley in up and coming wing forward French and second rower Jamie Hayter.