JACK LEE is hopeful York City Knights will have learnt from their painful lesson in Cheltenham - never assume a game is won.
The Knights will look to get quickly back into the winning groove this coming weekend at home to Gateshead Thunder following their 24-22 reverse to the Gloucestershire All Golds in which they threw away a 16-0 lead.
But captain Lee, who took his try-tally for the season to ten in 12 games with a late touchdown on Sunday, says they will only do so if they play their way for the full 80 minutes.
They had scored three tries without reply in the first quarter against the All Golds only to get sloppy, meaning a brave effort following Austin Bell's second-half red card was not enough to take the Championship One spoils.
"We went all that way (to Cheltenham) and thought we were going to win but we did not stick to what we were good at. There were a lot of errors," said Lee.
"Maybe we thought the game was won but in this league you can't do that. You've got to keep going and we switched off and let them get back into the game, and we got drawn into a dogfight.
"We've got to keep pushing. There is a lot of rugby to be played yet and we have to keep pushing, keep digging in and keep winning.
"You can't think you can just turn up and win. You have to earn these victories and work hard for the full 80 minutes."
The Knights remain second in Championship One, level on points with Oldham, who likewise lost at Hemel, and one point behind Hunslet Hawks. The sole promotion place, though, will be decided by the end-of-season play-offs.
"Our goals are still to come and I still think we will achieve them," said Lee.
"We have to play as we know we can play and not play as the opposition plays or how the opposition wants us to play, getting dragged down a level. You can get stuck into a fight but we don't want to be doing that as we're too good a footballing side."
Prop forward Bell is likely to face a disciplinary hearing and potential ban following his red card for punching.
Lee, though, was puzzled by referee Peter Brook's handling of the incident, in particular his decision to send off Bell but not censure All Golds' Jack Francis who had seemingly started the fracas.
"You can't fight yourself, can you," he said. "If you send one off, you have to look at the other. Maybe the referee didn't see it well."
The game ended in controversy, too, as Brook initially appeared to award York a last-minute penalty in front of the sticks for reefing, only to change his mind and give the All Golds a scrum for a knock-on by Ryan Backhouse.
A try on the back of that penalty would have rescued the win and lifted the Knights back to the league's summit, while a straightforward two-point penalty goal - a more likely option - would have levelled the scores on the day and sent them joint-top with Hunslet.
"I thought he gave us the penalty but he says he got a call from (a touch judge on) the sideline saying it was a knock-on," said Lee.
"To be fair, I didn't see it but, from Ryan's reaction, I'm pretty sure it wasn't a knock-on, and the referee initially seemed to think it was a penalty as well."