JAMES FORD vowed that York City Knights remain grounded despite now being the outright second placed side in the Betfred Championship, ahead of Sunday’s clash away to Batley.

Last weekend’s 23-16 victory away to fellow play-off hopefuls Sheffield put York on 28 points, two clear of Toulouse, Featherstone and Leigh, who occupy the other play-off places.

It was the fourth successive league victory for the Knights who will be high on confidence when they travel to the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium (3pm).

In spite of that, coach Ford says there’s still plenty of work to do if they are to seal a play-off place in seven rounds’ time.

“The boys are remaining grounded, that’s for sure,” said Ford.

“Despite being a fairly young group of players, they’re a mature one. We’re continuing to work hard and improve and we’ll stick to those principles.

“We’ve got to keep our standards high and if we don’t do that, then we’ll end up being beat, because the Championship is a tough league with many strong teams.

“Being second in the table isn’t going to make a difference to our group and its mindset. We’re not looking at the table and the moment and the table is an irrelevance until round 27.

“As far as I am concerned, there’s no pressure on us, despite our position, because we’re far exceeding the expectations of many people.

“The only pressure on ourselves at the minute is the standards that we set as a group.”

A fortnight ago York narrowly edged past Dewsbury 24-21 at Bootham Crescent thanks to a final-minute try from Matty Marsh, while it took a late Connor Robinson drop goal to secure victory against Sheffield.

Such tight victories at the critical point of the season show the mental strength of the Knights, Ford insists.

“I think we did show some real character in that game, and I think that’s been a trait of ours throughout the years,” added the head coach.

“Sheffield had some real momentum throughout the game and he had to stick together and show some real resilience to get the result.”

Batley currently sit in a lowly 11th place in the table, only three points above the drop zone and currently on a run of five straight league defeats.

The Bulldogs’ last win was against York, claiming a 17-16 golden point win in the 1895 Cup just three weeks ago.

“We know that Batley are a big set of players, with a strong pack,” added Ford. “They’re a very well-drilled and organised side, so we’ll have to find a way to break through that.

“I thought that it was a really good game when we last played Batley first of all.

“It was two good sides putting in a good performances, despite having played a few days earlier in the league.”

"Obviously, they’ll be different conditions when playing at Mount Pleasant. That’s not to make any excuses, because the hill affects both sides during the game. We’ve got to play well or we’ll be beaten, it’s as simple as that.”

Victory for York this weekend could prove pivotal to their top five challenge, with games against Bradford, Toronto, Featherstone and Leigh still to come.

Ford stressed that he and the players are simply looking at the fixture list one game at a time.

“I’m not sure about this being any more important than any other league game,” he said.

“As a group, we’re not thinking beyond Batley this weekend.

“All of our focus is on this game and putting in a strong performance to get the win.

“I wasn’t actually aware that we were playing Bradford next week.”

York squad: Marsh, Bass, Hey, C Scott, Robinson, Harris, Dixon, Jubb, Teanby, Salter, Stock, Brining, Horne, Blagborough, Baldwinson, Carter, Kelly, Whiteley, Jordan-Roberts.