YORK City Knights boss James Ford has hailed Will Oakes' "middle-finger" response to being dropped after playing a crucial role in the win over Bradford Bulls.

On-loan Hull KR winger Oakes was left out of the Knights' Betfred Championship trip to Batley Bulldogs a fortnight ago but returned to the line-up for Sunday.

And he was huge for the Knights in the thrilling 25-24 victory, scoring two tries - including a wonderful length-of-the-field interception when the Bulls looked set to score themselves.

Indeed it proved a day for wingers all round as Perry Whiteley also notched a brilliant brace while Ethan Ryan scored three and Jy Hitchcox one for the visitors, before the game was decided by a dramatic late drop goal by Knights stand-off Liam Harris.

“It was a good response wasn’t it,” said Ford of Oakes’ reaction to being left out of the 14-14 draw at Batley.

“He wasn’t in the team last week but he’s come in and scored a 95-metre try. I love that.

"That to me is him sticking his middle finger up at his coach and saying, ‘Dare leave me out again’. Brilliant. Well done to him.

“And well done to Scotty (Sam Scott) as well, who also wasn’t selected last week. I thought he was outstanding.

“When you leave blokes out and they come back into the side and perform like that – I love putting my hand up and saying I’ve got it wrong.”

Whiteley, meanwhile, scored his daring double in four second-half minutes which swung the game York’s way, prior to a Bulls fightback.

“I’m chuffed for Perry,” said Ford of the former Keighley player. “He came to the club (last summer) as a centre but I didn’t fancy him as a centre, to be honest. But I do fancy him as a winger.

“He’s a good 100-odd kilos, he carries the ball back as hard as owt, he’s got some pace, he’s improved defensively and he’s safe under kicks.

“He’s got the makings of a really really good winger and he’s done his job. He’s carried us out of yardage, he’s got us some quick play-the-balls and he’s finished his tries. Well done, Perry Whiteley.”

Ford, meanwhile, was delighted Ryan did not finish with four tries instead of three, after he had a touchdown at a crucial point of the first half ruled out for putting a foot in touch upon crossing the whitewash.

It could yet prove crucial in the race for the Betfred Championship top-five play-offs as the result moved York, still second in the table, six points ahead the sixth-placed Bulls with five games to go. Three of the Knights’ remaining games are against other teams in the top five.

Ford said of that Ryan miss: “Bradford did some wonderful things and scored some really well-executed tries. We did some daft things at the start of the second half and probably gave Bradford the opportunity to win the game.

“Fortunately for us, probably the best finisher in the Championship - possibly (someone who will be) in Super League next year if the rumours are to be believed - didn’t score a try that is a walk-in for him.

“I’m not having a go at him because that boy is wonderfully talented and some of the tries he’s scored over the last couple of years against us have been absolutely miraculous - but I’m absolutely chuffed he’s not scored that one.”