YORK City Knights boss James Ford was hopeful his star second-rows will both be fit for the start of the Super 8s after they limped out of the big victory over Workington that sealed fourth spot in Kingstone League One.

James Haynes scored a 14-minute hat-trick in the first half as the Knights beat the Cumbrians 34-0 to finish the regular season on a high note in front of another four-figure Bootham Crescent crowd.

The final positions in the table mean Ford’s men will face Toronto, Doncaster, Newcastle and Workington at home in the upcoming 8s, and Whitehaven, Barrow and Keighley away, with the full fixture list to be confirmed. The benefit of finishing fourth means an extra home game and no trip to Canada.

But whether skipper Ed Smith (knee) and fellow back-rower Joe Batchelor (ankle) will take their places in the Super 8s opener on July 30 is now in doubt. Veteran hooker Andy Ellis (calf) didn’t play too long on his return from a five-match absence either.

But Ford said: “We took all three off a bit early. That was precaution really, and we didn’t want to leave Andy Ellis out there too long in his first game back.

“We’ve got a week off now and hopefully they will be fit and raring to go for the start of the Super 8s.”

The Knights won the game in the first half, building a 28-0 interval lead having overrun Workington with 20 sets compared to the visitors’ 10.

“To beat a team in the top eight as convincingly as we did, I’m really proud,” said Ford, who was also delighted with a first clean sheet of the season.

“We looked at Workington’s attack (building up to the game) and we really rated it. The full-back (Tee Ritson) is lightning quick and they’ve got some real weapons in their armoury.

“We knew our defensive attitude would have to be up there and I thought that was excellent for 80 minutes.

“We gave them a couple of opportunities and we got a bit scratchy in the second half and we invited pressure. They tested our defence but generally we handled it well.”

On Haynes, who had returned at centre in place of the crocked Tuoyo Egodo, Ford added: “To score a hat-trick in (under) 20 minutes is excellent, and he took his tries really well.”

York slipped off in the second half but Ford put that down to Workington’s work-rate as much as the Knights’ own efforts.

“You have to credit Workington and their intensity in ‘D’. They worked hard, got back and forced us into some errors,” he said.

“We made some opportunities but didn’t take them. But it’s not a skill thing on our behalf – let’s give credit to Workington.”

On the challenges ahead in the race for the top-five play-offs, Ford said: “They’re all good teams, they’re all big clubs with good players.

“Every game will be a semi-final, a four-point game, in our efforts to get into the top five.

“We will back ourselves and take every game as it comes.”

He added: “We need to guard against complacency. We can expect Workington to be better next time they come here.

“But in terms of keeping a quality side out for 80 minutes, we won’t underestimate that or the importance of what it should do to our confidence coming into the Super 8s.”

The Knights had two new dual-reg Hull KR packman in their team in youngsters Mitch Clark and George Lawler, in addition to veteran Graeme Horne.

None of the trio has played enough times to be available for the Super 8s on dual-reg but there is speculation at least one of them may be back on loan.

Ford did not comment on that but was delighted with their efforts in a York shirt.

“First and foremost, their attitude was great, which reflects well on Hull KR. The attitudes of all the players we’ve had has been first class,” he said.

“They ran hard and tackled hard – I’m really pleased with what they’ve done.”

In-form hooker Will Jubb, who is eligible to play hereafter having been a regular all year, also received particular praise after his two-try show.

“He played big minutes - we didn’t want to leave Andy Ellis out there too long – and he scored a couple of tries,” said Ford.

“He’s a big thing for a nine and close to the try line he can be a threat. I’m really pleased to see him backing himself more.”

On the subject of recruitment before the transfer deadline, Ford said: “I think every club is going to be looking at what players are available come the Super 8s.

“If a player of sufficient quality and at the right price is available, we would be daft not to look at it.”