"ALL the pressure is on Featherstone."

That's the view of York City Knights coach James Ford as his side prepare to face the Rovers at Bootham Crescent tomorrow in their Betfred Championship play-off semi-final.

Last weekend's 44-6 defeat at Toulouse means York can no longer afford to lose again this year if they are to book their spot in the Super League.

York defied the pre-season odds to finish third in the regular season, two places and five points ahead of fifth-placed Featherstone, who are believed to have a far larger budget than the Knights.

Despite their loftier table placing in the season, Ford stressed that all weight of expectation is on the Rovers.

"For me, there’s no pressure on us," said Ford. "We’ve not noticed anything different about the build-up to the game, from our perspective.

"We’re just focusing upon ourselves. For me, we’ve exceeded all expectation placed on ourselves. The pressure is all on Featherstone.

"Their ambitions are to make the play-offs and not so long ago, they were almost unbeatable under Daryl Powell.

"They’ve got a wealth of resources and they should be challenging at the top of the Championship.

York sealed a famous 22-18 win over Featherstone at Bootham Crescent only last month in their run to the play-offs. Ford doesn't think it'll have any bearing on this weekend's game.

"I don’t think the past win over Featherstone will have an impact on this game," he added.

"Past results are gone. Neither side will get an advantage from that game, I don’t think.

"This is a different competition, we’re in the play-offs now and on the day, the winner will be the one that executes their game plan better.

"Featherstone are a very good side, I’ve said that throughout this season. Defensively they’re very organised, they’re physical, athletic.

"They’re up there as one of the best sides in this competition so we’ll have to be at our best.

"I think their main strength is their defensive organisation. They’re very tough to break down. Ryan (Carr) has done a great job there, putting those systems in place.

"Physically, they’ve got a very powerful pack. They’ll run and tackle hard and play on the front foot from that. We’ll need to match that come this weekend."

Last weekend's 44-6 defeat at Toulouse was one of York's heaviest of the year. It seemed to be a bruising one too as Will Oakes and Liam Salter - both included in this weekend's squad - left the field early.

Barring cup games, September 2017 was the last time that York lost back to back games in the league in a single season.

"I think if you look at our results over the past couple of years, we’ve not lost two games on the bounce for a couple of years now," Ford said.

"We went over to Toronto and got beat fairly heavily there, but the week after we went and beat Featherstone at home.

"Earlier in the season we lost at Widnes in the cup and a few weeks later we beat them at home. Losing is something that you’ve got to deal with.

"Mentally weak people don’t play sport, particularly not at this level. We’re not going to be sat in the changing room crying about losing a game.

"We’ll show our grit and prepare for another immense challenge against Featherstone this week."

After three games on the road, York return to Bootham Crescent for the final time this year, and potentially for the final time in their history.

A bumper attendance is expected, with Featherstone known to have sold over 500 tickets themselves for the game.

"It’s great for us to be at home, playing in York," Ford said. "It’ll be be great to play in front of our home fans.

"We’re well aware that there are going to be a lot of fans there, particularly a lot of Featherstone fans.

"There’ll be lots of York fans of course too and we need to make sure that they are loud, because we’re going to need them. They could make the difference."

York won't be at full strength for the game. Ford confirmed that hooker Kriss Brining won't play again this year after breaking his fibula.

Andy Ellis is now in line for his first appearance since June having being named in the 19-man squad.

"Kriss Brining won’t be available for the rest of the season, he’s got a small fracture on his fibula," Ford said.

"Andy Ellis comes in for us and I’m delighted to be able to include him. He’s a hooker with vast amounts of experience and that could be key for us.

"We’re unsure about Jason Bass and Graeme Horne. They’re two of four or five individuals that we’re waiting to see how they come through.

"It’s a situation where we wouldn’t normally gamble on that many players. But we feel it’s worth the gamble. I won’t go into specifics, but there’s a number of boys that we’re still waiting on."

York City Knights: Marsh, Salter, Hey, Robinson, Dixon, Jubb, Teanby, Scott, Spears, Horne, Blagbrough, Kelly, Whiteley, Stock, Bass, Baldwinson, Harris, Oakes, Ellis.