GARY THORNTON says he will take it "as a positive" if York City Knights' rivals load their teams with dual-registration or loan stars in the race for promotion from Championship One.

Gateshead had three dual-reg Hull KR first-teamers in their 17 today in centre Kris Welham and props Jordan Cox and Rhys Lovegrove, and they ended up pushing the Knights close - scoring three late tries to leave Thornton's men hanging on for a 34-30 win.

The result kept the Knights top with two games of the regular season left, and also saw them equal a club record of eight consecutive wins set in 2004.

Next up are arch-rivals Hunslet, who lie second and who have recently loaned threequarter Luke Briscoe from partner club Leeds and Keighley forward Ross Peltier.

Cox, Lovegrove and Welham joined Matty Beharell and Sonny Esslemont as dual-reg Rovers players in Gateshead's 17. York boss Thornton said: "I will take that as a positive.

"If that's what these sides need to do to beat York City Knights then we're in a good place.

"But that's up to them. We've just just got to worry about what we do. I threw the challenge down to my pack. They were coming up against two Super League players and I said to make sure we came out on top - and I thought we did.

"Jason Payne (Gateshead captain, back-row and top scorer) is a handful as well but our right-edge back-row, Ed Smith, was outstanding."

As for equalling the record, Thornton - who for his part fielded dual-reg Castleford duo Ben Reynolds and Brad Day, as well as long-term loanees James Saltonstall, Brad Brennan and Jay Leary - reiterated what he had said in the build-up.

"Records are great but at the end of the day if we don’t win the next four games (including the Grand Final) it counts for nothing," he said.

“I’m delighted we’re in this good run, though.

“In the second half we got into a commanding position but, fair play to Gateshead, they threw everything at us.

“It got a bit nervy at the end but thankfully we came through. It was a tough game but if you look at their line-up they had three quality Super League players in there.”

Thornton had words of praise for recent recruit Josh Tonks, who scored on his debut off the bench. The back-rower had played only four times for Championship club Dewsbury this year.

"It was a decent performance and it's always nice to score on your debut," said Thornton.

"His work-rate is terrific too, and defensively he was good. He's a bit off the mark in terms of fitness and we need to get minutes into him."

Full-back James Haynes is a major doubt for the trip to Hunslet after being helped off with concussion. Haynes suffered the blow when pulling off a try-saving tackle on Gateshead's Joe Brown.