YORK City Knights coach Richard Agar believes he has the best back row in the division after watching them shine against the Sheffield Eagles.

The Knights had to call on all of their strength and determination to overcome the larger than life Eagles pack despite a significant mismatch in the size department and showed exactly what they were made of in a 34-16 win.

Agar later hailed his pack - and in particular the back row - for supplying the power behind the win.

He said: "Sheffield have got a big pack and it's a major facet of their game. We put the onus on our six, although they were giving a bit of size away, to match their pack and we felt if we could match their pack it would go a long way towards us winning the game.

"And I thought we more than matched them, to be quite honest. I thought Yusuf Sozi put some tremendous shots on early doors as did all the forwards, Richard Wilson's played consistently well for us, and as for our back row, I believe when they're on fire they are probably the best in this competition."

Agar will be hoping to carry the strength and determination into next week's big match at Barrow - another early season title race indicator.

And he believes the high stakes could add another level to the Knights' performance if yesterday's attitude is anything to go by.

He said: "I was a little bit worried on Friday night. We didn't train particularly well and I didn't know if our eye was off the ball slightly.

"But sometimes you can get the feeling in the changing room before and I thought we had that little bit of fear in our bellies because we knew we were playing a dangerous side.

"That always seems to help us. When we play a team we recognise as dangerous we tend to know, and I thought apart from one or two hairy moments early doors, we started the game defensively exceptionally well.

"I thought it was a pretty good all-round performance. We had one or two harem scarem moments, a couple of sloppy individual errors, but I thought certainly on the whole and especially in the first half, our performance told."

He also shrugged off a fistful of unpunished high tackles on players including Aaron Wood and Craig Forsyth as accidental.

"There was concern from the commissioner and the fourth official at half time," said Agar. "But I don't think it was a game played in any particular malice. I thought it was just players flying in with poor technique and it was a little bit of a frantic game."

Simon Friend and Danny Brough both left the field prematurely, Friend after a head injury in the first 20 minutes and Brough coming off with a dead leg with ten minutes to go, but Agar insisted neither were serious.

He said: "Simon had a bang on the head and was all right to come back on second half but we felt we were on top of the game and rather than risking doing any further damage decided to leave him out.

"Danny's got a slight dead leg, nothing that he couldn't see the game out or that's going to keep him out. But with some fit bodies on the bench we decided we would give him a rest for the last ten minutes."

Updated: 11:03 Monday, May 03, 2004