York City Knights 24
Dewsbury Rams 21
There was late heartache for Dewsbury Rams who were thwarted by a late York City Knights try after leading for large parts of the first half, and having regained the advantage in the second period.
The visitors matched their hosts with four tries, but York’s four successful conversions proved decisive on the day, as Matthew Marsh’s last minute try snatched victory after Sykes appeared to have won it for the Rams with a late drop goal.
Dewsbury made an eager start and won back their own kick-off, and Sykes was held up two tackles later, but Liam Finn’s grubber on the last was easily gathered.
The visitors were back on the attack after receiving a penalty for a spear tackle on Rob Worrincy.
That laid the platform for Finn to show a dummy and crash over from short range. Sykes’ goal made it 0-6 with five minutes played.
There was a blow for Dewsbury when Robbie Ward pulled up with an apparent ankle injury, and minutes later he was helped from the field leaving the Rams without a recognised hooker.
But a sidewinding run and offload from Rob Worrincy released Andy Gabriel moments later and the visitors remained on top during the open exchanges.
Finn’s cross-field kick forced a knock-on and a repeat set and another kick to the corner, this time from Sykes, was dotted down by Worrincy.
Sykes was wide with his conversion attempt, but the Rams continued to ask questions.
Tom Garratt’s break was halted by a trip from Tim Spears and the York player was sent to the sin-bin.
The hosts grew into the game and threatened a first score, but the Dewsbury defence stood firm and the Knights were reduced to 11 when Sam Scott was shown a yellow card for a spear tackle on Worrincy.
The Rams took full advantage as Sykes produced a superb reverse pass to send Owen Trout coasting over from short range for Dewsbury’s third try, though the kick was again missed.
The atmosphere bubbled as York grew frustrated, but the visitors regathered composure after Dan Igbinedion was penalised for lashing out in the tackle.
Connor Robinson booted a kick out on the full to hand the Rams another opportunity, but agonisingly the ball was spilled on the first tackle.
Dewsbury continued to make errors in the tackle and the hosts got off the mark five minutes before half-time, when Kriss Brining scrambled over from acting half.
Robinson’s goal made it 6-14 with the interval approaching and they closed the gap further when Cameron Scott coasted over on the left.
By now all the momentum was with the home side, and they hammered over a penalty as the half-time hooter sounded to level matters.
York won a penalty early in the second half that put them on the front foot and Brining was held up over the line, but the Rams defence stood firm.
But the Knights took the lead for the first time when Will Oakes out-paced Gabriel on Dewsbury’s left, before find Liam Harris inside.
Harris’s goal made it 20-14, before things really boiled over and York’s Ronan Dixon was dismissed for a nasty swinging arm that connected with the head of Gabriel as he returned a kick.
The hosts continued to press, despite their now permanent numerical disadvantage, while Dewsbury sought to retain their composure as tensions rose.
A penalty for holding down invited more York pressure, but the Rams defended well and forced the error, before a sweeping right to left move set Adam Ryder away.
But on the next play the ball was spilled and the chance was gone and Dewsbury would knock on in an advantageous position once more moments later as Lee Greenwood’s men chanced their arm.
The Rams rallied, however, and an acrobatic finish from Worrincy in the corner took the visitors back within two.
Finn took over kicking duties and nailed the touchline conversion to make it 20-20.
York fluffed an attempt at a drop goal minutes later, before Sykes’ grubber was gobbled up by the Knights defence ahead of the chasing Martyn Reilly.
But on the next set, up stepped Sykes to stick over the drop-goal and put Dewsbury a point ahead.
York weren’t about to give up the fight though, and they forced a knock-on from an excellent restart, but on the fourth play Harris’s hopeful pass right sailed into touch, and the Rams survived.
The hosts would eventually break Dewsbury hearts when, after his bomb had forced a knock on, Harris’s grubber was plucked out of the air by Marsh.
Harris missed the kick, but it counted for little as the Knights had snatched a 24-21 advantage with no time on the clock for another Rams comeback.
Rams: Joe Martin, Rob Worrincy, Owen Trout, Adam Ryder, Andy Gabriel, Paul Sykes, Liam Finn, Dan Igbinedion, Robbie Ward, Tom Garratt, Daniel Waite-Pullan, Michael Knowles, Kyle Trout.
Interchanges: Danny King, Nyle Flynn, Frazer Morris, Martyn Reilly.
York: Matthew Marsh, William Oakes, Liam Salter, Cameron Scott, Perry Whiteley, Liam Harris, Connor Robinson, Jack Teanby, Harry Carter, Graeme Horne, Brad Hey, Sam Scott, Tim Spears.
Interchanges: Kriss Brining, Ronan Dixon, Jack Blagbrough, Marcus Stock.