JAMES FORD says York City Knights' cruel play-off semi-final defeat will never leave him - but insists he and the team will "come back stronger".

He has also called on the sport's governing body to amend "the most bizarre rule ever" to prevent such controversial misfortune striking again in the future.

Head coach Ford has taken the Knights to the League One play-offs three times in his three seasons in charge, and last Sunday's heartbreaking 21-20 defeat at Whitehaven was the second time he had lost a semi-final in golden-point extra time, having suffered the same fate against Swinton in 2015.

This time there was additional frustration as Haven's winning drop-goal, after a world record 25 minutes of extra time, came after they were handed a scrum in front of the posts due to the ball - from a wildly off-target previous drop-goal attempt - hitting the referee before trickling out of play. The rules state the team who had been possession get the put-in if the ball strikes the official.

The club have already turned attentions to a renewed assault on the league next year but, asked if this season's conclusion still rankled days later, Ford said: "It never leaves you.

"There's the golden point defeat to Swinton a couple of years ago. Then the late defeat to Keighley in the iPro Cup final last year. You don't get over these things - these experiences stay with you.

"As disappointing as they are, you need to learn from them and take strength from them.

"We will come back stronger."

Ford wants the RFL to amend or at least look at a number of rules over the off-season which he thinks would make the game better.

"I'm bitterly disappointed to lose like we did, to a really strange rule," he said, referring to Whitehaven being handed the platform of the attacking scrum.

"Without wanting to go off on a rant, there are a few rules that need looking at.

"Trapping the ball in a scrum to win a penalty has become fashionable. It's become fashionable to try to milk penalties to get out of your 20 - and you wonder why our elite teams crack when put under pressure against Australian sides. We need to develop that mental side of the game but instead we beg for penalties.

"The game also needs to work hard on clarifying ruck wins and losses so everyone - referees, players, coaches, spectators - knows what a win and loss is.

"That will speed the game up and stop the moaning and frustration for coaches, players and supporters.

"We also need clarity on what obstruction is. Every now and again you can get a really random obstruction call from the officials.

"They need to clarify that so coaches can adjust things.

"Finally the rule that cost us needs looking at.

"Where the ball hits the referee and the attacking team get a scrum - that is quite simply the most bizarre rule ever.

"You can't blame the officials as it's a rule of the game and they have to adhere to it. But it's a ridiculous rule.

"Hopefully as a whole we can look at the product. We have foundations of an outstanding sport but we need to move it forward."

l GREG MINIKIN, who was in the York team that lost their 2015 League One play-off semi-final at Swinton in extra time, is gearing up for next Saturday's Super League Grand Final after his Castleford team beat St Helens - likewise on a golden point - in a jaw-dropping semi-final.

Minikin helped the Tigers build a 20-10 lead only for Saints to amazingly score three tries in eight minutes and edge 22-20 ahead with two minutes left.

However, with the last kick of normal time, Luke Gale booted a penalty to equalise, and the half-back won it in extra time with a drop goal.

Prop Alex Foster - who like Minikin was a product of the Knights' old youth set-up - also played for Cas, who, after topping the top-flight table for the first time in their 91-year history, have now reached the modern era Grand Final for the first time.