22nd April 2018, 18:47 | ChallengeCup
Catalans Dragons survived a tremendous effort from York City Knights to secure their place in the sixth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.
The French club were rattled for long periods by opponents from two divisions below and needed late tries from Jodie Broughton and Greg Bird to finally wrap up a 34-22 victory.
The City Knights were humiliated 92-2 in their last meeting with the French club in Perpignan five years ago but this time pushed them all the way in an entertaining tie.
York stand-off Connor Robinson was arguably the best player on the pitch, while two tries in seven minutes from substitute forward Joe Porter brought the 3,081 crowd at Bootham Crescent to its feet and threatened to inspire a famous victory.
Fouad Yaha and Jason Baitieri crossed to give Catalans an early 10-0 lead but James Ford’s men struck back in sensational fashion with Porter’s brace of touchdowns.
Catalans struck a decisive blow on the stroke of half-time when substitute prop Mickael Simon barged his way over for a third try and David Mead put Lucas Albert through a gap for the visitors’ fourth.
The part-timers were not afraid to throw the ball around and full-back Kieren Moss finished off another impressive flowing move but the Dragons then secured victory with Gigot sending Broughton over and Bird crashing through for their sixth try, although York had the final say when Joe Batchelor swooped.
Catalans coach Steve McNamara admits confidence remains low despite their progress to the next round.
“We’re really frustrated with how we’re playing at the minute but I think a lot of that was down to what York did,” he said.
“We’re pleased to get out of here with a win. I don’t think to be honest we were in danger of losing the game.
“But they kept it close and stayed in it. Every time we looked like we’d move away from them, they found their way back into the contest.
“We’ve got the job done but we’re not happy with how we’ve played. There were spells where we looked okay but we’re a little bit off at the minute.
“We’ve got to get back and regroup for a big game next week against Hull.”
York boss James Ford, a full-time lecturer, says his team’s impressive showing was a great advert for the lower leagues.
“Outside the Super League, the game is thriving and you wouldn’t have thought there was £1.7million between the sides today,” he said.
“I’m very proud. We spoke about wanting to be the hardest-working side on the field and we were certainly up there today.
“The game was in the balance for large parts and unfortunately we weren’t quite good enough to win, but you’ve got to give Catalans some credit.
“They came here and we tried to make it hostile for Catalans, so obviously all the pressure was on them.
“They were good enough and strong enough to stay in there when we put them under a fair bit of pressure.”