Hard yards: Haven's Lewis Brown is halted by York's Tim Spears
Whitehaven player-boss Carl Forster reckoned his side deserved their late fortune as they held on for a “massive” victory at York City Knights.
Haven, leapfrogged by Barrow on Saturday, went back up to second place in Kingstone Press League One with an 18-16 success in searing heat at Bootham Crescent.
But, having forged a deserved 18-4 lead midway through the second half, they ultimately won thanks to three missed penalties in the last seven minutes by York – all eminently kickable, from 40, 35 and 32 metres out in centrefield.
Forster, though, having predicted the game would be their sternest test of their remaining fixtures before the Super 8s, said it was a case of his team creating their own luck.
“It was our toughest game of the season so far (barring unbeaten leaders Toronto),” he said after the final hooter.
“I thought we put ourselves in a position of complete control but we let them back into it. We got lucky with their kicks but I thought we deserved it overall.”
Asked about the importance of this victory in the regular season as a whole, Forster added: “It was massive to win it.
“We got second place in the league last week. Barrow won on Saturday to go back above us and that put pressure on us, but we came through and got that place back.
“We want to finish second as close to Toronto as possible, so it was everything to win this one.”
On York’s missed penalties – two by their recent signing from Halifax, Connor Robinson, and the last by fellow half-back Liam Harris, the dual-reg Hull KR starlet – Forster said: “I think you create your own luck.
“We put ourselves in a position to win. I think nine out of 10 times they go over but not in this case. I think they were definite penalties – we were really stupid.
“It would have been harsh on us if they’d gone over as I thought we deserved to win.
“If they had equalised, they would have been celebrating it like a win and for us it would have felt like a loss. But in the end, we got the points.”
Forster, himself arguably Haven’s man-of-the-match, shared the praise among his squad for the victory, which came courtesy of tries by winger Craig Calvert, replacement hooker James Newton and the player-coach himself, all crucially converted by Paul Crook.
Asked who had impressed him most, Forster said: “I can’t separate anyone, from one to 17.
“The bench brought impact, James Tilley was excellent again in the middle and Newts (Newton) came on at hooker and perked us up. But overall, it was one to 17.”