YORK City Knights made a stunning statement of play-off intent in the Betfred Championship thanks to a terrific 23-16 victory at Sheffield Eagles.

The South Yorkshiremen, with top-five aspirations of their own, are one of few teams to have beaten the Knights at Bootham Crescent this season, but Connor Robinson's late drop goal right in front of a noisy gathering of cheerful travelling fans sealed revenge and ended any home hope of a league double.

Furthermore, it lifted the Knights to the heady heights of second in the table, albeit before the rest of the weekend's fixtures, and opened a healthy cushion to sixth place with seven games to go.

Given the first aim for James Ford's promoted team this year was to stay up, to be bang in the play-off race in July is remarkable stuff.

In fact, if this carries on, there might even be a danger of this band of upstarts winning promotion to Super League - ludicrous as that sounds.

The club's rise was epitomised at Olympic Legacy Park by two of the try-scorers, Jason Bass and Marcus Stock, who this time last year were students playing for minnows Coventry and Hemel respectively. Now look at them, not only holding their own in the upper echelons of the second tier, but playing big parts in beating play-off rivals.

Bass was one of four changes to the side that enjoyed the last-gasp victory over Dewsbury last week, being recalled at full-back in place of the match-winner that day, Matty Marsh, who was ruled out with injury.

Will Jubb was back in for Harry Carter as starting hooker, and Josh Jordan-Roberts replaced former Sheffield star Sam Scott in the back row. Ronan Dixon, perhaps unfortunate to be sent off midway through last week's eventful encounter, also missed out here, replaced in the pack ranks by Jordan Baldwinson - who gave one of his best shows yet for the club.

One other tactical switch saw Brad Hey and Liam Salter swap places at centre and second-row.

Dixon avoided a ban for his red card but skipper Tim Spears had no such luck, being handed a one-match suspension for accidental contact with the referee. That doesn't kick in till next week, though, so he took his spot at loose-forward after passing a late fitness test.

Sheffield started on top, enjoying repeat sets thanks to a penalty and dropout. Hooker James Davey got over the whitewash but was held up. Then they created an overlap but Jason Crookes' scoring pass to winger Ben Blackmore was forward.

York also twice kicked out on the full, the sideways breeze taking the ball over the sideline, with half-backs Liam Harris and Robinson sharing the guilt.

Robinson - having escaped a spell in the treatment room despite his worrying injury last week - also fumbled to waste field position gleaned from a penalty.

However, they stoically kept their try-line intact and then got a set of their own in the red zone due to a knock-on as players challenged under Harris' next chip.

Bass found a route to the try-line and, although it was aided by obstruction with a penalty awarded, it was a warning which went unheeded by the hosts as he soon opened the scoring.

The try followed a penalty, with Bass again joining the line and this time, without illegal assistance, catching the hosts by surprise by stepping up the pace on an angled run to the right corner.

Robinson added an excellent conversion.

Sheffield pressed again and, while Hey went close at the other end, the hosts probably deserved to go in at half-time level and did so thanks to winger Ben Blackmore being allowed to beat Robinson into the right corner on the hooter, with Pat Walker booting a touchline goal.

Nevertheless, two tries within six minutes and 20 seconds of the resumption set York up for their victory. Much of it was down to a cameo by Hull loanee Cam Scott.

Initially, it was his chase that trapped Josh Guzdek in goal after the Eagles full-back had been turned around by a funny bounce on a Robinson chip. Robinson and Bass then combined to give Scott the chance to force his way to the try-line with a fabulous finish.

It was Scott, too, who neatly stole the ball on half-way to set the platform for the next try after the Eagles briefly overplayed.

Kriss Brining went close before Stock took it upon himself to go in at dummy-half and go over the whitewash.

Robinson hit a post with the first conversion but had no problem with the second.

Liam Salter was held up as York sought a third quick-fire try before Sheffield hit back through a try by the ever-dangerous Anthony Thackeray. Pat Walker this time hit an upright with the conversion.

The hosts went close again after Thackeray's impudent chip over the defensive line, and they also forced repeat sets.

However, the togetherness in the Knights' ranks was once more to the fore as they kept their 16-10 lead intact, before winger Perry Whiteley led a counter attack via a super interception.

That very set ended with Harris' cut-out pass seeing Hey give winger Will Oakes the chance to cross in the corner before running around to the posts for an easy goal.

It wasn't game over as Bass blotted his copybook when dropping a difficult restart kick and Sheffield soon striking back as half-back Thackeray this time put Oliver Davies through, Walker's goal cutting the gap back to one score.

There were still 12 minutes left but Sheffield could find no equaliser and, instead, York's first penalty of the second half took them upfield where Robinson, on the last tackle, sidestepped one onrusher before steadying himself and knocking over the match-sealing drop goal.

Sheffield: Guzdek; Millar, Ogden, Crookes, Blackmore; Walker, Thackeray; Knowles, Davey, Burns, Farrell, Davies, Brown. Subs (all used): Meadows, Broadbent, Mason, Esslemont.

Tries: Blackmore 40; Thackeray 54; Davies 68.

Conversions: Walker 40, 68 (2/3).

Sent off: none

Sin-binned: none.

Knights: Bass 8; Oakes 8, Hey 8, C Scott 8, Whiteley 8; Harris 8, Robinson 7; Teanby 7, Jubb 8, Horne 9, Jordan-Roberts 8, Salter 8, Spears 7. Subs (all used): Brining 8, Baldwinson 9, Blagbrough 8, Stock 9.

Tries: Bass 31; C Scott 42; Stock 47; Oakes 65.

Conversions: Robinson 31, 47, 65.

Drop goal: Robinson 77.

Sent off: none

Sin-binned: none.

Man of the match: Marcus Stock - there were several candidates in a team show of togetherness, but this guy's 'stock', like York's, seems to be rising with every passing week.

Referee: Aaron Moore (Wigan) - good.

Penalty count: 5-6