JAMES FORD labelled his York City Knights side as “defensively soft” after their 32-16 loss to Batley Bulldogs.

A one-sided first half finished at 20-0 to Batley, essentially ending the match as a contest. York were unable to threaten the Bulldogs during the opening 40 minutes and even found getting out of their own half tough going.

The result sees the Knights suffer a third straight Betfred Championship defeat and stay in fifth, now two points behind play-off challengers Halifax Panthers and Batley, who are third and fourth respectively.

“I thought that defensively we were soft,” said head coach Ford, “Batley rolled us.

“We got left on the floor while they were stood up. I don’t know where that has come from because that’s certainly not what we aspire to be.

“Some of the stuff that we produced with the ball is not what we aspire to be either.

“This year, it was certainly one of the worst performances we’ve served up.

“We’ll be working really hard and we’ll sort it, that’s for sure.”

While York had lost their last two, against Halifax (36-10) and Barrow Raiders (16-24), coming into the LNER Community Stadium clash, this felt like the toughest defeat of the three in a row given the nature of the display.

Ford said: “I’m really disappointed with a number of aspects of our performance. I thought initially defensively in the first half, we were left on the floor, lost too many rucks and we left too many Batley players standing up when they were carrying the ball. They rolled us and that had a real impact on our energy.

“When we got in yardage, we lacked shape and push. Then when we moved the ball, we just didn’t execute anywhere near the levels that you need to do to break defences down at this level.

“I want to congratulate Batley. They completed incredibly high, kicked to corners really well, defended much better than us and when they were in good ball, I thought they executed really well.”