“WE are the most improved team in the competition from round one.”

So said head coach James Ford of his York City Knights who secured a 38-6 victory over Newcastle Thunder at the LNER Community Stadium.

After an opening round defeat to promotion favourites and current Betfred Championship leaders Featherstone Rovers, York have won six of their last seven league matches, losing only to second-placed Leigh Centurions.

The latest win for the part-time Knights was over full-time Newcastle and came in convincing fashion, scoring seven tries and conceding just one.

“I thought we played really well,” reflected Ford. “In the end, it was comfortable and that was on the back of our physicality.

“All our forwards ran incredibly hard and made good metres and took some handling.

“I thought we kicked well and defended really tough too. There was some real intent about out performance - that’s how York teams play.

“On the back of that, we played some nice football and scored some pretty special tries.”

Ford added: “I keep telling my players that I feel we’re the most improved team in the competition from round one and that’s probably our best performance, up until I started influencing it by taking players off and chopping and changing.

“That wasn’t the best thing to do for today’s outcome and the scoreline. But it was the best thing to do in terms of next week and the week after.”

The Knights boss highlighted the impact of his forward pack, with Masi Matongo particularly standing out at prop.

“There’s probably little tweaks from the old adage that forwards decide who wins games and the backs by how much,” Ford said.

“It was true in the 60s, the 80s and it’s still true now. There’s more subtlety around it now but the basic crux of it is that we’ve got a really good middle and they take some handling.”