JAMES FORD believes that his current York City Knights squad is better than the hugely-successful side of 2019.

York have recorded six wins from their first eight Betfred Championship matches this season, losing to only big-spending promotion favourites Featherstone Rovers and Leigh Centurions, to put themselves third in the league table.

The Knights finished the 2019 campaign in third, a huge upset of the pre-season odds given that they were back in the second tier after the 2018 League One title win. That year was the club’s best-ever league finish since reformation in 2002.

2019 was typified by narrowly-fought victories while this campaign’s scorelines have been far more one-sided.

Full-time Newcastle Thunder have been beaten in the league and cup at an aggregate scoreline of 80-19 while fellow play-off contenders Widnes Vikings were dispatched 32-6 at the LNER Community Stadium.

“The scorelines are larger than what we saw in 2019 (because) we’ve got a better team,” said head coach Ford.

“Our middles are really hard to handle and are really good defensively.

"We’ve got three really good half-backs that would get in any team in the division.

“And we’re all on the same page.

"We’ve got a game model with all of the areas of the game broken down and our philosophies are imprinted on the team.

“I think you can see elements in the play that we’ve always had.

"But the cohesion and the understanding and the relationships that they’ve got together has enhanced us.

“We’re not asking them to do anything different to what we’ve asked other teams to do, we’re just doing it better.”

Ford believes that he is a much-improved coach following the disappointment of 2021.

York finished ninth in the Championship having been hit by injuries and seen several off-season recruits struggle to live up to expectation.

“It helps that we’ve got three excellent half-backs and all of them understand the game to a very good level. We didn’t have that last year,” Ford explained.

We’ve got middles who run hard and tackle hard. We didn’t have that last year.

“Levi (Edwards) and James Glover have come in and really strengthened our three-quarters.

“We’re going in the right direction and the thing that excites me the most is that we know as a collective that we can improve a lot more.”

The Knights boss added of their current third-placed position: “We’re just taking it a game at a time and trying to improve week on week, individually and collectively as a unit.

“We’ve got a group of people this year who are hungry and want to work hard and want to get better and enjoy being challenged and enjoy being asked to improve rather than getting their violins out and sulking about it.

“I’m really enjoying 2022 on the back of a really challenging 2021, which made me a stronger person and a better coach.

“Credit to these boys because they’re an absolute delight to work with.”