In any normal season the York City Knights would have been delighted with a third round Challenge Cup tie against the Cup Kings, Wigan Warriors, but with no crowds allowed inside their shiny new stadium you couldn’t help but be disappointed for them.
The home side were given a massive twenty-eight point start on the coupon against a Wigan side who have comfortably won their opening two Super League games and you could get 20/1 on a York win while Wigan were 1/33. No-one gave the hope side a ‘snowball in hells’ chance of the win.
It was the first meeting between the two sides in thirty-five years.
York put in a stunning opening ten minutes, spending most of it on the attack inside the Wigan half, the Warriors defence absorbing the initial onslaught.
On twenty minutes it was the Warriors who opened the scoring as Zak Hardaker took the ball and ran the angle to score in the corner, a little against the run of play. Hardaker was unable to kick the conversion but there was a huge sigh of relief that the Warriors had repelled the early York pressure and taken the lead.
Wigan went 8-0 ahead on thirty-one when Harry Smith was on hand to take the final pass from Jake Bibby after an electric across the field passing move to score in the corner. Hardakers conversion fell short of the sticks as Wigan were finding it difficult to pull away.
Four minutes later and Wigan were in for their third with Sam Halsall taking the pass from Smith and stepping inside his tackler for a walk-in try. It looked like York’s early efforts now meant that they were a spent force. Hardaker finally added a conversion for a 14-0 lead.
The half-time hooter couldn’t come soon enough for York as they tired, but they did manage to hold out until the hooter, trailing but still in the game.
A mistake by Umyla Hanley in the opening minute of the second half gifted York an opportunity but they couldn’t make it count and gifted possession back to the Warriors.
It was game over on fifty minutes when Jackson Hastings dummied before passing out to Hanley to take two steps and dive over for the four-pointer. Hardaker added the conversion to bring up 20-0.
Just after the hour mark Tony Clubb bulldozed his way over the line after taking a Powell pass five metres out. Four tacklers made no difference as he forced the ball onto the line and when Hardaker added the conversion it was 26-0.
The York defence managed to hold firm for the remainder of the game but disappointingly they couldn’t make it over the whitewash themselves as the clock ran down to a 26-0 Wigan win.
While the score line might indicate differently, this was not a straightforward and easy win for the Wigan Warriors as York put up quite a fight and posed plenty of questions. In the end the home side couldn’t break down the Wigan defence despite periods of domination. The Wigan win was expected, but many would have expected that it would be by more than the eventual outcome.
York City Knights: Harrison, Whiteley, Dow-Nikau, Salter, Dixon, Marsh, Washbrook, Green, Jubb, Cuthbertson, Porter, Scott, Spears. Subs: Barcoe, Dixon, Stock, Towse.
Wigan Warriors: Hardaker (T, 3G), Hanley (T), Halsall (T), Isa, Bibby, Hastings, Smith (T), Bullock, Powell, Singleton, Smithies, Bateman, Partington. Subs: Byrne, Clubb (T), Havard, Shorrocks.
Referee: Marcus Griffiths.
Score Progression: 0-4, 0-8, 0-12, 0-14 : HT : 0-18, 0-20, 0-24, 0-26 : FT.