YORK City Knights ran up their biggest win of the 2019 season by hammering Rochdale Hornets 60-0 - but boss James Ford reckoned it was still some way off the perfect performance.

The recalled Perry Whiteley scored a hat-trick as the Knights ran in 11 tries at Bootham Crescent to stay in the play-off places in the Betfred Championship.

Ford praised his team's ruthlessness against the side at the foot of the table and was particularly pleased with the clean sheet, but he insisted there was room for improvement.

The result kept York fifth, level on points with Featherstone and Leigh above them, and back to two points off second-placed Toulouse following their shock defeat to Swinton - who host the Knights next weekend.

"I'm really pleased to get another zero," said Ford. "I thought our defensive mentality was really good, evidenced by the players still working hard from the inside and getting our third-man efforts right even when the game was dead at 50-odd nil. We've pushed someone into touch and celebrated like the game was 0-0.

"You can't just switch that on or off. Once you've got it as a team you need to maintain it and celebrate it. Our attitude towards hard work and defending was right up there.

"With the ball we did some really good things, scored some lovely tries and asked questions all over the place.

"But on occasion we missed our detail coming out of yardage which probably gave some field position away and gave opportunities for Rochdale to attack our goal-line.

"We've got a lot of young players out there who are still learning the game and about the ramifications of certain actions. We'll have a look at it and I know we'll continue to improve."

Ford said the fact Rochdale are struggling does not take anything away from his team's display.

"To beat any team in the Championship by nil is fantastic, to make it 60-0 is even better," he said.

"We spoke about being ruthless at half-time. I know that's not doing Rochdale any favours but we've got to focus on us. Our points-difference isn't great and I was pleased with how we kept sticking to our processes for the majority of the match.

"There were a couple of periods within the first half where we probably missed one or two bits of detail and that allowed Rochdale to get some territory on us, and we had to come up with some effort to defend that.

"We missed the detail a couple of times in the second half (as well) so it certainly wasn't a perfect performance and we'll have a look at those areas. But the boys are smart, they'll understand it and hopefully we can continue to improve."

Asked which pleased him most - scoring 60 points or conceding zero - Ford said: "It's the zero every time for me.

"Our attitude towards hard work and the little details in defence - our retreat speed, third-man efforts, willingness to get back and get on loose kicks and get back and defend two or three repeat sets when the game has gone - shows how good our mentality is."

Ford was also delighted to rack up a big win for the supporters.

"I think the York fans are fantastic," he said. "They've grown in numbers and they get behind us immensely well, and I know the players love playing here.

"Some opposing players often talk about how passionate they are and how much they get behind us and how it swings the momentum in our favour.

"There are 10 games left of the (league) season and those supporters have a massive part to play in how we finish."

Veteran Andy Ellis came out of retirement for a third time to answer an SOS due to injuries in the hooking ranks, and he played about 24 minutes either side of half-time. It was the 34-year-old's first outing back in the pro ranks since the last game of York's 2018 League One title-winning campaign.

Ford said: "I thought he was good. He's only trained twice but he's an intelligent bloke and he's dropped back into how we want to play.

"You wouldn't have thought he'd not played for a year or not trained at this level for a year. He should be happy with what he's done.

"I'm really proud he's come back to help us. It just shows how together the boys are and what this club means to the players who play for or have played for us.

"He's obviously got commitments away from us - because he's retired - so there will be times when he's not available but Kriss (Brining) and Harry Carter will be coming back soon, so we'll see how things shape up."