YORK City Knights begin a “big three weeks for the club” at Halifax Panthers on Monday night (7.45pm), Brendan O’Hagan believes.

Fourth-placed York will return to third in the Betfred Championship, having been leapfrogged by Batley Bulldogs who won 20-18 at Sheffield Eagles on Friday night, with a victory at Halifax, who sit fifth.

A win at The Shay will be no easy feat though, with the in-form Panthers having won 11 of their 12 league matches, their only defeat in that dozen-game period coming to leaders Leigh Centurions.

With Batley and Leigh’s nearest title challengers Featherstone next up for the Knights, this month could prove to be season-defining for James Ford’s side.

“It’s a big three weeks for the club with the two games on TV (against Halifax and Batley) coming up and we’re playing three teams in the top five,” said half-back O’Hagan.

“I’m sure everyone will be up for it. We’re excited to test ourselves against the top of the ladder.

“You play the game to test ourself against the best. I think that’s what coming up now.

“The top five have been playing some really good rugby so all the boys are going to be pumped and there’s going to be some quality rugby league on show.”

York head to West Yorkshire on the back of a 24-16 defeat at home to fellow play-off challengers Barrow Raiders last time out.

“I think we were just a bit off on all of our main goals,” reflected O’Hagan. “I don’t think the overall performance was shocking, but it wasn’t a York game that we played.

“When you’re playing in our competition this year, you’re going to get turned over by teams if you’re not up to scratch.

“There’s a great vibe around the camp still. All the boys are quite confident and we know what we’re capable of doing.

“It was a down week for us and we weren’t quite where we should have been but it’s about moving forward now.”

The loss to Barrow was only York’s fourth from 17 league matches this year, having lost to top two Leigh and Featherstone as well as Halifax, who triumphed 40-24 at the LNER Community Stadium in late May.

“At home, there was a period where we let the game slip away from us,” recalled O’Hagan. “We need to match them up front and play our style of footy.

“I think if we dictate terms of how we play, I think we can get the job done. We need to get back to playing the rugby that we know how to play and the rest will take care of itself.”