GARY THORNTON hailed his York City Knights side's ability to "pull games out of the fire" as they sealed their Kingstone Press Championship One title-winning campaign with a tenth straight victory.

Some scintillating first-half touchdowns helped York build a 26-10 half-time lead against an enthusiastic London Skolars side and, although the visitors threatened to be party-poopers, aided by the Knights' indifferent second-half performance, winger James Saltonstall scored a super solo try late on to repel the fightback and seal a 38-28 win.

Thornton's troops, having already secured the league leaders' crown, were then presented with their trophy on the Huntington Stadium pitch.

And, said Thornton, having duly maintained their club record winning sequence, they will they go into the promotion play-offs - in which they first face Hunslet or Oldham in the qualifying semi-final at Huntington Stadium in two weeks' time - brimming with confidence.

"It wasn't a great performance and the second half completion rate was terrible, but it doesn't take the gloss off a terrific season," said the head coach.

"We got into a decent lead and we possibly took our minds off things, but, fair play to London Skolars, they kept coming at us.

"The three-week lay-off probably didn't help. We were a bit rusty. In the second half we went away from what we do well. We made a number of unforced errors and a 40 per cent completion rate won't win many games.

"I was concerned when they got to within four points. They were in the ascendancy and we were making mistake after mistake. I thought it might spoil our party.

"But, like our players have done throughout the season, when they have needed to pull the game out of the fire, like they did at Hunslet last time out, they did it.

"Greg Minikin's (first-half) try and James Saltonstall's (match-clinching) try - sometimes you need individual brilliance to pull you out of trouble, and they did that."

The game got feisty at times, with an incident on the half-time hooter - instigated by alleged gouging on Ben Reynolds - placed on report.

But Thornton said: "I would much rather we had a tough game like that than a stroll in the park.

"They have a real big pack of forwards and they never threw the towel in. It was probably what we needed. I didn't want a soft game."

Asked if he was concerned any altercation would lead to cards or even suspensions ahead of the play-offs, he said: "I was worried somebody might get drawn into it.

"One or two of them were trying to wind one or two people up. I knew if there was a sending-off because of it somebody might be in jeopardy of missing out on a semi-final spot.

"We had to be professional and not get drawn into it. It unsettled us a little bit, but you have to consider that every time you play."

Finishing top of the pile gives the Knights two bites at the cherry for a place in the Grand Final at Headlingley, both at home.

If they win the qualifying semi-final in a fortnight, they go straight through. If they lose it, they have another chance in the final eliminator a week later.

Thornton was eyeing quick progression. "I am confident," he said. "We've been the best team in the competition and this ten-game winning run proves it.

"We've now just got to make sure nobody comes out here in the semi-final and out-enthuses us.

"We can obviously improve on that performance (yesterday) and we will do. We're really looking forward to the semi-final."