YORK City Knights boss James Ford hailed an “amazing achievement” after his team came from behind to beat Featherstone Rovers and bank a Championship play-off place with two games of the regular season to go.

The Knights, beaten twice by Rovers this season, came from 12-0 and 14-10 down to win 22-18 at a bouncing Bootham Crescent thanks to tries by Will Oakes, Kriss Brining, Graeme Horne and Joe Porter.

Ford reckoned sealing a top-five finish – to stay in with a chance of a remarkable promotion to Super League – was a bigger feat than beating Bradford Bulls to the League One title last year.

He said: “I’ve spoken to the boys about what an achievement it is. It was only two and a bit years ago that we lost to Oxford away. This club has come so far in such a short space of time.

“For the club and where we were, I believe it’s a bigger achievement than last year.

“If you look at the clubs in and around us, and their resources and their histories, I think it’s an amazing achievement.”

Asked who were the main reasons for the success, Ford was quick to laud the players.

“The people off the field do a tremendous job promoting the club and helping when it comes to performance on the pitch,” he said.

“But the players are always central to performance. You could get (England's Aussie coach) Wayne Bennett and hand select the best assistants in the world but if the players don’t buy into what he wants them to do and if they don’t work hard or have that fight and desire, it’s not going to have much effect.

“These boys cop a fair bit from the coaches at this club but they’re always desperate to improve and desperate to perform.

“I’m really proud of them. They’ve worked tremendously hard and I hope they get loads of plaudits as they deserve it.”

This was yet another nailbiting clash, and Ford joked: “The fans certainly get their money’s worth – but it would be easier for us, for me, in terms of life quality and life expectancy, if we could start winning by more than one, two or four points.”

Featherstone took the lead after only 70 seconds and were 12-0 up on 20 minutes.

They had star man Dane Chisholm sin-binned five minutes before half-time, though, and York struck back twice before the break.

Ford said: “It was a really good game. It was in the balance for large parts of it.

“Featherstone are a good side and they got a great start. The momentum was certainly with them and we came up with some daft things – a forward pass from a tap, a couple of poor play fives, and a couple of preventable penalties, which presented them with a great opportunity.

“You can’t give sides of that calibre those opportunities as they’ll punish you, and they did.

“The game could have got away from us but we showed a lot of togetherness, fight, grit and desire to initially hang in there, and then we built some momentum and, when Dane got sin-binned, half-time came at the wrong time for us.

“It was similar to the game at the Summer Bash where we were 0-0 after 30 minutes but we had a 20-minute period where we capitulated. But this time we didn’t. We were stronger mentally and that mental strength gave us an opportunity to fight our way back and win the game.

“In the end we got the points, which is the aim of the game.

“We spoke about the journey they’ve been on and the standards we’ve set at this club for a long time. They’re there for a reason, to develop resilience, to develop concentration, and we needed it for days like this one. We need it for the play-offs, and that’s why we do what we do.

“I’m just delighted to get the win and to get into the five."

On the half-time team talk, Ford said: “We spoke about if we can be stronger than them mentally and improve our play fives, and be a little bit tidier in some of the detail, this game was in the balance and we could take it, and thankfully we did.”

The Knights now have a free weekend due to the Challenge Cup final next Saturday, and Ford said: “I want the boys to enjoy the success of making the five and have a couple of days rugby free – I might have a rugby day off myself this week – and then we’ll come at it and start prepping for Leigh and Halifax and the play-offs beyond that.”