Ata Hingano will make first York City Knights start against Bradford Bulls

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York City Knights half-back Ata Hingano celebrates his try against Dewsbury Rams. Picture: Craig Hawkhead
York City Knights half-back Ata Hingano celebrates his try against Dewsbury Rams. Picture: Craig Hawkhead

ATA HINGANO will make his first York City Knights start against Bradford Bulls on Monday night (7.45pm).

Hingano made a dream debut for York in Sunday’s 22-10 win at Dewsbury, scoring and assisting a try while also seeing two other scores, one he appeared to have grounded and another he looked to have set up, controversially ruled out by the referee.

Having appeared for half an hour as an interchange against the Rams, the Tongan international half-back will be given a starting berth when the Knights face rivals Bradford.

“Ata will start on the left-hand side,” head coach James Ford confirmed. “He showed enough in that 30 minutes (at Dewsbury) to warrant starting.

“Who starts on the other side, I’ve not decided yet. I’ll take a look at the two training sessions this week before I make my decision.

“The other three half-backs (Brendan O’Hagan, Jamie Ellis and Liam Harris) will be in the squad and, as I said last week, it’s the best combination that I’m after, not the best individuals.

“I’ve spoken about our lack of patience (against Dewsbury) and I’m making a reference to the halves there. I thought they pushed the ball too much and were trying to play well individually.

“And it’s a team sport, not an individual sport.”

Hingano will get his first taste of the York-Bradford rivalry on Monday as the Knights seek the league double over their West Yorkshire opponents following May’s 20-6 win at Odsal.

The Bulls are on course for their worst season since promotion back to the Betfred Championship in 2018. Having sacked John Kear in April, Mark Dunning’s side are currently ninth, nine points adrift of the play-offs and 10 points behind fifth-placed York.

“I think they’re going through a transitional period,” Ford assessed of Bradford. “They’ve obviously changed coaches and, looking at them, they’re changing their philosophies on the field.

“They’ve lost some key personnel, like Danny Brough, players who take some replacing. We’ve been there as a club, replacing Graeme Horne and Joel Edwards.

“All the best to Mark. I hope he gets it right, apart from on Monday, and I hope he turns that club around.

“Having said that, I’m sure our supporters want to beat Bradford, I want to beat Bradford and my players want to beat Bradford.

“It hurt us when they beat us 2-0 in 2021 and we want to return the favour and beat them 2-0 in 2022.

“That would give our supporters a big badge of honour on Tuesday at work, knowing that we’ve beaten Bradford 2-0.

“To get there, we’ll have to play better than we played against Dewsbury and put those lessons into place on the night.”

Similarly to York last year, the Bulls are currently facing numerous injury problems, primarily at half-back.

First-choice pair Jordan Lilley and Dec Patton are missing through an ankle injury and suspension respectively while Billy Jowitt has a shoulder problem.

18-year-old Myles Lawford debuted in last week’s 48-18 win over Workington Town and looks set to lead the Bulls around the park at the LNER Community Stadium.

“They’re missing Jordan and Dec but Myles Lawford, the young kid they’ve brought in, he’s got a good running game and is brave,” said Ford.

“He certainly wasn’t overawed by the physicality against Workington. Who partners him, I’m not sure. I’d guess Elliot Kear.

“The full-back (Joe) Burton is strong through his hips and good on his feet. The two wingers, (Matty) Dawson(-Jones) and (Ryan) Millar are handfuls.

“And at nine, George Flanagan, love him or hate him, is a threat on goal-line and brings an awful lot of energy and endeavour to that Bradford side when he comes on. We’ll need to be good around the ruck to negate his impact.”