JAMES FORD says there’s a “positive rivalry” between York City Knights and Bradford Bulls as the two play-off hopefuls face off in the Betfred Championship on Sunday at Bootham Crescent (3pm kick-off).

York retained their spot in second in the Championship table despite only managing a 14-14 draw at 10th-placed Batley at Mount Pleasant last weekend.

Bradford, who are sixth and four points behind York, could also only conjure a draw in their last outing as a back-and-forth affair against Swinton Lions ended in a thrilling 34-34 tie.

The Knights and the Bulls were both promoted from League One last year, with Ford’s side narrowly pipping the much-fancied former world champions to the league title.

Ford believes that despite the rivalry there’s plenty of mutual respect between both clubs.

"I think there’s a positive rivalry between ourselves and Bradford which is healthy and I think it’s great for both clubs,” said Ford.

“There’s lots of mutual respect there, and we’ve certainly got lots of respect for Bradford as a club and a team.

“What they’ve done this year and last year has been fantastic. They’re going in the right direction as a club and like ourselves they’re working hard to get a spot in the play-offs.

“But, we don’t want that to be at our expense though. We’ll maintain our philosophy about working hard for another in order to get the right result.”

York have done plenty of work in order to promote the game, including offering two free tickets to those that accompany a season ticket holder, should they have registered earlier this week.

“I’m sure that match will be a great occasion as lots of the Bradford and York matches are,” Ford added.

“There will be a great atmosphere at Bootham Crescent, with two passionate sets of supporters, two teams going at each other hell for leather and two coaches trying to get the better of one another.

“I think both clubs have promoted the games really well at their respective grounds well this season.

“Hopefully lots of people will have got behind our ticket offer and make it into a really good, exciting occasion.”

York have been boosted by two pieces of recruitment news through the week.

Talisman half-back Connor Robinson has signed a new deal until the end of the 2020 season and outside back Cameron Scott - who has scored a try in all of his four matches thus far - who remains on loan from Hull FC until the end of the season.

“It’s great to have Connor (Robinson) signed to us until the end of 2020,” said Ford of the deal. “He’s been an integral part of our group and its success over the past couple of years.

“He’s matured as a player and he’s improved lots as well, although his taste in music could do with a bit of work still!

“I wouldn’t say it was a straightforward procedure because these things never are. But I sat down and spoke with Connor and he told me that he wanted to stay at the club and that he enjoys playing for us here at the York City Knights.

“Once we knew that it was a case of completing the deal with his agent. He’s a real organiser of our team in both defence and attack and we’re really happy that he’ll be with us in 2020."

Ford added: “I’ve really enjoyed working with Cam in the short space of time that he’s been here at the Knights.

“He’s done well for us so far and we knew that we were bringing in a good player to the club when he signed.”

The Knights welcome captain Tim Spears back into their squad this weekend after serving his suspension against Batley last weekend, while Will Oakes and Sam Scott also return. Brad Hey, Harry Carter and Mike Kelly miss out.

“Having Spears back in the squad is massive for us,” beamed Ford. “He’s a real leader and motivator.

“He demands focus from his team mates and he takes us as a team to a higher level which says a lot about him. He makes other players better and it’s great to have him back into the squad.”

Graeme Horne has recovered from the injury which forced him off early against Batley. Winger Judah Mazive joins Ash Robson as being out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.

York City Knights squad: Marsh, Oakes, Bass, Cam Scott, Whiteley, Harris, Robinson, Teanby, Jubb, Horne, Sam Scott, Salter, Spears, Brining, Stock, Dixon, Blagbrough, Baldwinson, Jordan-Roberts.