ANY concerns that York City Knights’ early season rhythm would have been hampered by last week’s controversial call-off at Rochdale were quickly eradicated back at Bootham Crescent.

Wiped out inside 13 mad minutes, in fact.

A stunning three-try opening blitz in that time had the Knights 18-0 up against Halifax and on their way to a wonderful 38-16 win – a fifth consecutive victory which amazingly put them joint-top of the Betfred Championship, albeit only temporarily prior to Toronto Wolfpack’s evening kick-off.

Bear in mind this win was against a side who almost always finish in the top four.

And bear in mind it came despite York being rocked by losing winger Perry Whiteley three minutes before kick-off due to a migraine and blurred vision, and losing hooker Harry Carter to a hamstring strain a quarter of the way through.

It has been written a few times this term – these are heady days for the Minster city club. Coach James Ford and his players continue to pull up proverbial trees. Where is it going to end?

Ford had planned to make two changes from the 17 that beat Leigh last time out - but he had to make three due to Whiteley's late withdrawal.

The original alterations came in the pack where fit-again captain Tim Spears and Sam Scott made their first appearances of the year, replacing Marcus Stock and Josh Jordan-Roberts.

Whiteley’s injury saw JJR come back in at right-centre, with Jason Bass shifting to the wing.

Liam Salter, the centre on the other flank, would have been ruled out for last week’s postponed game at Rochdale by a hamstring injury, but passed fit to remain an ever-present since signing from Hull KR. What a game he had, pushing Jack Teanby and two-try Ben Cockayne for the man-of-the-match award.

Whiteley became the third winger, after Ash Robson and Matt Chilton, to go into the treatment room.

There was no return “home” for Halifax scrum-half Ben Johnston, the former York Acorn junior and Knights player, who was replaced in the visitors’ line-up by Ben White. Johnston had been a York try-scorer the last time these teams met – an 18-16 Halifax win at the Shay in 2013.

Fax’s one other change from the side that comfortably saw off Dewsbury last week came on the bench, giant dual-reg Castleford prop Will Maher replacing St Helens loanee Liam Cooper.

Welsh trio Chester Butler (quad), Connor Davies (ankle) and Sion Jones (knee), and veteran Simon Grix (groin) remained sidelined.

A terrible start for York turned into a super one in the blink of an eye.

Halifax’s kick-off bounced out of play – on Whiteley’s wing – handing the visitors an immediate attacking scrum.

However, Connor Robinson picked off a pass, sprinted forward and handed on to the rapid Judah Mazive who flew home. The try came after one minute 15 seconds.

A poor field kick by Robinson then gave Fax the ball just inside their half. But this time Ronan Dixon came up with a brilliant charge-down and chase to regain possession near half-way, and the set ended with Scott scoring – the second-row simply having too much brute force for the defenders.

Home fans were then in dreamland when Cockayne, in centrefield, sold an outrageous dummy to break through and rounded the full-back with aplomb.

Robinson’s three conversions made it 18-0.

The try-scoring continued, but this time at the other end after a handling error by Mazive – a loose carry ruining a jinking run and giving Fax the ball in York’s half. Prop Dan Fleming crashed over and Stephen Tyrer converted.

But the visitors mucked up the restart and a penalty followed, Robinson eking the lead up to 20-6 at the quarter-way mark.

Still the carry-on carried on.

A brilliant piece of skill by Fax captain Scott Murrell to break through the line, a super offload out of the tackle by Tyrer and a diving finish into the corner by winger Shaun Robinson cut the gap to 20-10 on 26 minutes. Tyrer’s touchline conversion bounced out off the far post.

This was a far cry from the attritional, defence-dominated 9-8 win over Leigh but, perhaps remarkably, there were no further scores before the interval, York’s defence hanging on at the end as Fax sought a way back in.

There was a high-energy start to the second half, York having the edge when forcing Will Sharp back in goal to earn a repeat set. A head high tackle followed and Robinson’s boot made it 22-10.

They soon got more reward for an excellent third quarter.

Joe Batchelor and Teanby combined in the tackle to force Fax full-back Reece Chapman-Smith to spill the ball in his own half. Hard-running prop Teanby had another big, bruising game.

The attack ended with Cockayne, on the last tackle, dummying, spinning and planting the ball over the whitewash. It was another big moment from Cockayne, and his half-back partner added the extras.

A good kick and chase forced another dropout as York stayed in the ascendancy, and a penalty for offside, booted by Robinson, made it 30-10 on the hour mark.

Indeed six successive free-kicks York’s way kept Halifax pinned back, until the visitors got one of their own and duly scored from their first piggyback of the second half – Jacob Fairbank touching down a kick to cut the deficit to 30-16 with 11 minutes left.

There was to be no comeback.

Some Super League-standard handling in close quarters by Graeme Horne and Salter gave silky full-back Matty Marsh the chance to speed home, Robinson continuing his 100 per cent record with the boot.

The game could easily have been marred by an horrendous tip-tackle on Batchelor late on. Referee Tom Grant put it on report but showed no red card. Batchelor, remarkably, got up as Robinson added another points to cap the victory.