HEAD coach James Ford hailed York City Knights' "massive" potential after his team's latest eye-catching win - but he insisted they had to keep their feet on the ground.

The Knights' stunning season in the Betfred Championship continued with a 23-16 victory at play-off rivals Sheffield Eagles on Friday night, which lifted them to second in the table prior to the weekend's other fixtures.

It means they remain in line for a shot at promotion to Super League just 12 months after beating former World Club champions Bradford Bulls to the League One title.

Asked how proud he was of his team, Ford - who was heavily linked to the Hull KR hot seat not long ago - said: "I'm always proud to be the York coach. The club's going in the right direction. The potential of this club is massive.

"There are good people in and around it. There are great volunteers, great staff, so I'm always proud to be here.

"For it to be our first year in the Championship and to go second, yeah it's good. But we're not going to get carried away.

"We've got seven testing games, very challenging games, and we must maintain our efforts and keep getting better."

Asked if this victory in itself was a statement of intent, Ford said: "I don't know about that. Obviously it's two more league points, and it's very important for us to keep winning.

"Sheffield are a quality side - they put Toulouse to the sword here - so it's a good win. But I wouldn't mark it as a statement of intent.

"There is plenty of rugby left to be played and we need to maintain our philosophy of trying to get better each week."

On the performance, Ford said: "I'm immensely proud of the defensive effort. Sheffield have got fantastic attacking individuals and to defend as we did for as long as we did to me highlights how together these boys are and the desire they've got to stay in and win a game.

"I'm as proud as punch of every single one of them.

"I've got a bunch of blokes who are very happy to keep turning up for each other and at training trying to get better and challenging each other to get better, and that philosophy manifests itself on game days.

"I've no doubt that not any single one of them will ever give in."

When asked what impressed him most of Friday night's display, the head coach referenced Sheffield half-back Anthony Thackeray - who signed for York from Widnes alongside Ford back in 2011, before moving on to Halifax, Dewsbury, Featherstone and, this year, the Eagles.

"It was our willingness to work for each other," he said. "Sheffield asked us questions of us. Thackeray is a very talented player and he has been for a long time.

"He's a top half-back in the Championship and they've got other threats - the wingers are a threat, as is (stand-off) Pat Walker. James Meadows in space is a threat.

"Just our approach to the defensive side of the game really pleased me."

After Sheffield equalised on the stroke of half-time, York took a big step towards victory with two quick-fire tries on the resumption. Their only real error of the second period was the otherwise excellent Jason Bass spilling a restart kick after his side's third try of the half, which led to a Sheffield riposte. York nevertheless sealed victory with a late drop goal.

Reasoned Ford: "I thought we were absolutely superb in the second half. We made one error when we spilt a kick-off, which was a really good kick-off in testing conditions. Lots of full-backs would have put that down.

"But one error in 40 minutes is a superb approach."