YORK City Knights fans were in party mood for the last game of the regular season at Halifax – and their team duly gave them further cause for cheer with another come-from-behind victory.

Busloads of them, many in Hawaiian fancy dress, made the trip to the Shay to celebrate a remarkable campaign, their team already guaranteed third place in the Betfred Championship exactly 12 months after going up from the third tier, following Saturday’s results.

This 14-8 win just put a fitting cap on matters, with nothing riding on the game other than prep for the play-offs.

However, it wasn’t all happiness and sunshine, as victory was marred by injuries to Jason Bass in the first half and, perhaps more crucially, talismanic prop Graeme Horne late on as the game turned unnecessarily feisty.

James Ford’s troops now go to Toulouse for the first game of the play-offs next weekend, where victory would hand them an even longer journey, to table-toppers Toronto for a place in the final. Defeat next week would put them into a knockout match at home to the winners of the teams in fourth and fifth – Leigh and Featherstone.

Finishing second in the table would have given them a much more preferable home tie next week but Toulouse sealed that spot with a late win at Featherstone.

No matter, this has already been an incredible campaign for the Minster city boys, who had been tipped by many for a relegation scrap – not for a battle to get into Super League.

Regardless of what happens hereon in, they are now officially the best British team outside of the top flight and the best semi-pro team in the northern hemisphere.

They must rank among the most entertaining sides in the land, too, after the plethora of thrillers and nail-biters they have provided over the past two seasons. Indeed, this was the 28th match in that time that was settled by seven points or fewer – 22 of them ending in victory.

Take a bow, Ford, the players and chairman Jon Flatman. And go hell for leather in the play-offs. Imagine it – York in a Grand Final for a place in the promised land. Unthinkable really.

Ford made three changes to the side that memorably won another of those thrillers at Leigh last week.

Liam Salter was fit again and replaced Joe Porter in the second row – the only change to the starting 13.

Replacement hooker Kriss Brining was out due to a minor knock – his input was missed – with Ford asking Will Jubb to play the entire game at number nine, instead drafting Ronan Dixon in as a third prop on the bench, where fit-again Jack Teanby also replaced Jack Blagbrough. Perry Whiteley remains sidelined and his size and strength coming out of yardage will be a miss if he’s not back for the play-offs.

Halifax, having been tipped for another play-off push, finished the campaign eighth in the table, with their season highlight instead being a memorable run to the Challenge Cup semi-finals.

They gave a guard of honour before kick-off to Will Sharp, Ben Johnston and Ben Kaye, who are all leaving the club – with winger Sharp and York-born half-back Johnston both heavily tipped to be joining the Knights.

The hosts were handed early opportunities as Jordan Baldwinson spilled the kick-off, while Connor Robinson fumbled at a play-the-ball. Two penalties followed and Sharp gave them an eighth-minute lead, racing onto an angled grubber by full-back James Woodburn-Hall.

York benefited from four penalties but their attacking play was disjointed at best, the loss of centre Bass being another blow.

When they did get it together, aided by a fortunate repeat set, Liam Harris thought he had jinked in but referee Tom Grant deemed him held up.

Jubb was also held up close to half-time as he tried to dig in on the back of a penalty and dropout.

Halifax, though, looked the more enterprising in possession, and, after an excellent off-the-cuff attack was only halted by desperate defence, veteran playmaker Scott Murrell chipped to the right corner where Ed Barber caught and touched down for a deserved 8-0 interval lead.

The first 10 minutes of the second period continued in similar vein, a running off-the-ball battle between Barber and either Salter or Connor Robinson winding up the supporters more than the action.

Ironically, York got into the game against the run of play when a pass to Barber did not find its target, Robinson picking it up in acres of space and sprinting 80 metres to the other end for a try and conversion.

A fortunate repeat set gave them another chance – and this time they took it, Harris’ cutout pass finding former York Acorn amateur Matt Chilton hugging the right touchline and finishing excellently in the corner. Happy days indeed for Acorn, following their astounding victory on Saturday which saw them promoted back to the elite tier of amateur rugby league.

Robinson converted and, out of nothing, the Knights were 12-8 up on the hour.

Referee Grant earned the wrath of Fax fans again when handing York a scrum 25 yards out after a bit of kick ping-pong, dissent in the home team turning that into a penalty, which Robinson knocked over.

Frustrations in the home ranks grew with a couple of errors but their defence held out, York not even attempting a drop goal which would have put them two scores up.

That could have been costly as Fax went up the other end but they had a potentially equaliser chalked off for a forward pass.

Instead, Sam Scott had the ball reefed out amid a swinging arm by Barber, Grant penalised Fax, Ben Moore was sent off for dissent and York, having been far from at their best, saw the game out - albeit losing Horne to a shoulder injury as the clock ticked down.

Betfred Championship: Halifax 8 York City Knights 14

Halifax: Woodburn-Hall; McGrath, Tyrer, Barber, Sharp, Murrell, Johnston, Fairbank, Kaye, Hirst, Cooper, Kavanagh, Larroyer. Subs (all used): Moore, Fleming, Davies, Saltonstall.

Tries: Sharp 8; Barber 39.

Conversions: none (Tyrer 0/2).

Penalties: none.

Sent off: Moore 77.

Sin-binned: none.

Knights: M Marsh 7, Oakes 7, Bass 6, Hey 6, Chilton 7; Harris 8, Robinson 8; Baldwinson 7, Jubb 8, Horne 8, Salter 8, Scott 7, Spears 7. Subs (all used): Dixon 6, Stock 7, Teanby 7, Kelly 7.

Tries: Robinson 50; Chilton 59.

Conversions: Robinson 50, 59 (2/2).

Penalties: Robinson 65 (1/1).

Sin-binned: none.

Sent off: none.

Man of the match: Liam Salter – worked his socks off on his return from injury, initially in the back row and then at centre.

Referee: Tom Grant (Leeds) – okay, with a couple of 50-50 calls going York’s way.

Penalty count: 5-9

Attendance: 1,862