MAN of the moment Pat Smith has warned York City Knights cannot get too far ahead of themselves despite their hammering of Hunslet Hawks – insisting the result would mean little if such form is not matched come the end-of-season play-offs.
The Knights jumped to the top of the Kingstone Press Championship One table thanks to Sunday’s 40-0 thrashing of arch-rivals and title favourites Hunslet.
The performance saw six York players named in the league’s Team of the Week, with Smith also winning the Player of the Week accolade. But while the 24-year-old agrees it was the side’s best display of 2014, he says turning thoughts to a possible repeat in the grand final would be premature.
"You can't jump too far ahead,” said the half-back, who created two of the Knights’ seven tries during Sunday’s romp and kept his side moving forward throughout.
“This was maybe the third time we've played anywhere near to our potential this year. For us to start thinking of going up or now labelling ourselves as favourites for promotion would be premature.
“We’ve been playing poorly in a few games and, while we’ve been getting results, it came back to bite us against Oldham (in a 31-30 defeat).
“We’ve got to perform week in week out in the regular season and only then can we look at the play-offs.
“We played well against Hunslet but we now have to do it against Gloucestershire All Golds away, for example, and it won’t be easy down there.”
That Gloucester game takes place next Sunday, before which the Knights have a blank weekend.
Smith added: “To put a label on us as favourites, we have to maintain this form. But I’m not thinking about promotion – I’m thinking about Gloucester away.
“Steve McCormack (new All Golds coach) has got them firing and has added a couple of players.
“That game has got to be our main focus now, not promotion. We can only take it one week at a time.”
York’s Challenge Cup defeat of Championship outfit Whitehaven and league win at Hunslet were other high points this season, but Smith reckoned Sunday’s show topped them.
He also reckoned it was important to put on a good performance following the loss at Oldham, when York were poised to pull off a momentous comeback win from 27-0 down only to concede a decisive try late on.
"The Whitehaven game and the game at Hunslet were good but I think against Whitehaven we didn't start well and at Hunslet towards the end we lost it a bit. In terms of an 80-minute performance this was the best one we've pulled together,” he said.
"It's all about September and getting to the grand final and winning it, so in that sense it was only one league game and doesn't bring the big prizes.
“But it was very important for us. After the heartbreaking defeat at Oldham it could have been easy to implode and fall apart but to pull together like we did and put in that performance was great and the fact it was against Hunslet made it better.
"We can't get ahead of ourselves and go talking of promotion now, though. It's not about being top of the pile now but being there when it comes to the play-offs and grand final.”
As for his individual award, he added: "I don't really pay too much attention to it. It's nice to be recognised but it's more about the team performance for me.
"People have been playing really well but are getting overlooked. Jack Lee is one. He really got us going against Oldham last week - he was the main reason we got back in the game. There's Jack Aldous week in week out. He played 80 minutes against Oldham on one leg.
"Ed (Smith) and Ryan Mallinder have been really good and consistent in the second row. Greg (Minikin) and Ben Dent score really good tries, and James Saltonstall has added a lot, just to mention a few.
"There a lot of players in our team who will be there or thereabouts (when it comes to individual accolades).”