A Saints side devoid, due to other commitments (international referring in the case of Captain Tara Jones!), of many first choice stars travelled over to York on Sunday, writes Graham Henthorne.

Despite their parlous position the City Knights made the Saints fight hard for their 26-6 win even taking a shock first minute lead as their left centre picked up a loose ball before outpacing the cover over 80 metres.

From the restart Sara Lovejoy and in particular Vicky Whitfield, getting a rare start, took the game by the scruff of the neck ploughing into the home side down the middle.

Zoe Harris put that front foot domination to good use moving the ball around well.

It was her handling that spread the ball to the left on six minutes with Katie-May Williams putting her winger Leah Burke over.

From the restart the Saints went back to back on the back of two powerful drives from the unstoppable Whitfield. Harris took charge on the fourth stepping through the line and then past the full back for a great individual try. She converted it herself and the Saints were on their way.

They made it a point a minute when aggressive defence got the ball back deep in the City Knights half. Leah Burke had been stopped short down the left but from the handover was part of the team which bundled the Knights player into touch.

Three plays later and the referee disallowed a try for Naomi Williams only to give the Saints a penalty. Thankfully two tackles later Lovejoy crashed over to score.

But from that point the Saints lost a bit of cohesion blowing three try scoring chances due to forward passes in a ten minute period.

They could and should have been out of sight. As it was they had to wait until the half hour for Naomi Williams to make the superior territorial advantage count when she dummied her way over on the right.

The last action before the break saw yet another forward pass lead to a try lost.

The second half began with the home side running with the significant wind and a vociferous home support behind them which seemed to affect the younger Saints.

New signing Bex Wilson had a try chalked off when she reacted first to a lost ball. In a mirror image of the first half the referee disallowed the try only to award the Saints a penalty. This time they couldn’t go over on the restart.

Too many errors from the Saints kept the City Knights interested and they were unlucky not to score on the hour dropping the ball over the line.

Saints fears were calmed slightly when Whitfield crowned a fine performance with her first try in the red vee taking two over the line with her.

The less regular performers in the Saints squad really stepped up to the plate. Led by the industrious Pippa Birchall, Jade Ward, Claire Mullaney and young Eleanor Dainty all played their part in supporting the older heads of Emily Rudge and Channy Crowl. But best on the day was Vicky Whitfield closely followed by Zoe Harris.

Match Summary:

Tries: Ashleigh Hyde (1).
Goals: Mary Tiplady 1 from 1.

Tries: Leah Burke (6), Zoe Harris (9), Sarah Lovejoy (14), Naomi Williams (29), Vicky Whitfield (66).
Goals: Zoe Harris 2 from 4, Naomi Williams 1 from 1.

Half Time: 6-20
Full Time: 6-26


1. Natalie Carr; 2. Ellie Hendry, 3. Bettie Lambert, 4. Ashleigh Hyde, 5. Katie Thompson; 6. Cairo Newby, 7. Mary Tiplady; 8. Bev Langan, 9. Ellie Powell, 10. Carly Hilton, 11. Paige Stevens, 12. Emily Farrow, 13. Daisy Sanderson.
Subs: 14. Chloe James, 15. C J Adams, 16. Alisha Clayton, 24. Tasha Diamond.

1. Becca Rotheram; 2. Alex Simpson, 3. Naomi Williams, 4. Katie-May Williams, 5. Leah Burke; 6. Zoe Harris, 26. Carys Marsh; 8. Sarah Lovejoy, 9. Pippa Birchall, 10. Vicky Whitfield, 11. Jade Ward, 12. Emily Rudge, 13. Channy Crowl.
Subs: 17. Eleanor Dainty, 20. Claire Mullaney, 21. Rhianna Burke, 25. Bex Wilson.

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