HEAD coach James Ford hailed York City Knights’ efforts in defence as his side maintained their winning run without his input.

Ford, starting a two-match touchline ban, watched on from the stands as the Knights beat North Wales Crusaders 30-0 at Bootham Crescent to stay level on points with Bradford Bulls at the top of Betfred League One.

Ford admitted their attacking play was “scratchy”, regardless of the five tries without reply, but had high praise for his team’s performance without the ball.

He also said points-difference was of secondary concern, even though Bradford’s 40-0 win over Whitehaven on Saturday saw them extend their points-difference advantage to 92 points in the race for the sole automatic promotion place.

“We’re not looking at points-difference,” he argued. “We’ve got six games left after this one and first and foremost we’ve got to win them. Bradford have six games left and have to win them.

“Points-difference only comes into play if we tie on points.

“We’ll take one game at a time and try our best to win each one.

“We can’t control what Bradford do or what other teams do when they play against Bradford.

“To get the two points and keep the pressure on Bradford – that was the primary goal.”

Ford reckoned the Crusaders, unlike a few other opponents this term, did not buckle under York’s early pressure, despite falling 12-0 down inside 15 minutes.

“When we set our stall out and get that right, we do seem to dominate territory and post some points,” he reasoned.

“Unfortunately this time, we’ve come up with the wrong option or got tackled and lost the ball or just not been quite good enough when executing attacking play.

“But don’t take anything away from the effort of my players because that was tremendous.

“They worked really hard against a decent side, and 30-0 is a comfortable victory.

“We know we need to be better – more clinical, more ruthless. But defensively we were outstanding and the effort was top class.”

“Crusaders had some good shape and we had to come up with big defensive plays.

“We came up with seven or eight erros (in possession) on the bounce at the back end of the first half and North Wales are a good side and asked lots of questions of us, so we had to expend a lot of energy defending in that period.

“But I suppose it wouldn’t be a York City Knights performance of 2018 if we didn’t spend 10 or 15 minutes defending our goal-line and making it hard for ourselves.”

He went on: “Defensively we were really good. We put North Wales in difficult situations and our hunt defence was excellent, and we made them kick from their own 30 frequently in the first half.

“If I’m honest, our first 15 minutes were pretty much perfect. I thought we were absolutely outstanding.

“From then on in we then had patches where we were a little bit scratchy and let the pressure off North Wales.

“Let’s credit them – they made us work really hard. I said in the build-up they’re a good side and I said when we played them away they’re a good side.

“They asked lots of questions of us on our edges and they had some big fellas who took some handling around the middle, and they didn’t give in. It was a very hot day and they had a real dig.

“Anthony Murray their coach is a winner and he’ll be disappointed they’ve lost, but I’m sure when he looks back at the game and reflects on the efforts of his players he’ll enjoy a nice cold beer and feel a bit of pride about how hard they’ve work for him.”