HEAD coach James Ford hailed York City Knights' mental resilience after his side got off the mark in the Betfred Championship in stunning fashion.

The Knights, having lost to title favourites Toronto in last week's opener, trailed 16-0 at Dewsbury Rams only to hit back with a three-try blitz in 10 second-half minutes around the hour mark.

The hosts went back ahead late on but York won the match 26-22 two minutes from time thanks to a converted Matty Marsh try, plus a Connor Robinson penalty on the hooter.

Said Ford: "I'm delighted to get our first league points. We knew it would be a really tough challenge.

"It's a really small field and Dewsbury are hard to beat here. They showed that in the first half when I thought they rolled us."

Asked if fitness played a part in the second, Ford said: “I thought we started the game with a lack of intensity, a lack of bite.

“We rectified that and that gave us a foothold in the game.

“We are a fit side but more importantly I think we’re a mentally resilient side.

“At 16-0 down a side can fall to pieces, but we hung in there and found ways to build pressure and eventually we got opportunities.

“We were maybe a little bit fortunate with one of the tries, with the error from (Alex) Brown, but generally I felt we were good value.”

Asked if he thought the game was gone at 16-0 in the third quarter, he said: “I knew we’d get opportunities to win the game. It was whether we’d be good enough to take those opportunities.

"In the first half we weren’t good enough. We had one (try) ruled out for obstruction and Brad Hey got tackled into touch a couple of times. We were just a little bit off in terms of our execution.

“But if a side is going to give us as much opportunity as that then eventually I fancy us to start posting some points.”

He added: “It’s an important part of learning for my team. It’s not often we’ve been 16-0 down in a game, when you think of the last couple of years (in League One). For us to be in that situation and show the mental strength and resilience to hang on in there and then slowly turn the game in our favour is an important part of our development as a side.

“There are good sides in this division, some outstanding players and really top coaches. I’ll be learning week on week and my players will.”

On being 14-0 down at half-time, largely thanks to Sam Day's two early tries, Ford said: "Dewsbury ran hard and kicked the ball well and put us under pressure and we weren't good enough.

"We conceded a couple of soft tries and afforded them too many metres and too much ruck speed on the back of us not being good enough in contact."

On the scores by hooker Day, in which York's goal-line defence was not up to previous standards, Ford said: "He's a nippy little player and he had a decent game.

"But you've got to have more urgency and more desperation about you on your goal-line, and to concede from dummy-half - it wasn't even a barge-over, he just dummied through - was poor.

"Then we showed no energy or enthusiasm to deal with the low kick he put in.

"They were two indicators maybe of complacency, I'm not sure. But I thought in the second half we were far better than in the first."

Asked what kind of half-time team talk he had given, Ford said: "I just made it really clear what I thought.

"I asked them to invest a bit more in our defensive intensity and on the back of that get field position. And be a bit more patient when we got the ball in good ball and have more shape when coming out of yardage.

"In the first half we weren't great at any of those things but in the second we shaped up pretty well and moved the ball well and that loosened up Dewsbury's spacing and helped us speed the game up. When we get opportunities in their half, we're a side that believes we can post points."

York’s comeback was halted when the Rams went back ahead eight minutes from time. But Ford said: “Again we showed some mental strength to deal with that and find a way to get back in there.

“It was disappointing to concede another try on the goal-line.

"The boys won’t be surprised to find out we’ll be doing a fair bit of contact and goal-line ‘D’ (in training this week) because we can’t afford to give teams those kind of opportunities.”