YORK Knights head coach Andrew Henderson believes that the Betfred Championship has been a tremendous competition this season.

His side travel to Barrow Raiders this afternoon (3pm) for their regular season closer, which can have implications at both ends of the table.

Barrow are one of four teams on 16 points, alongside Keighley Cougars, Whitehaven and Swinton Lions in the bid to avoid relegation to Betfred League One, whilst the Knights are one of four vying for the final place in the end of season Play-offs.

League Leaders’ Shield winners Featherstone Rovers, Toulouse Olympique, Sheffield Eagles and Bradford Bulls have already sealed their places in the top six, with the Knights needing to better Halifax Panthers’ result to claim their spot.

Henderson has enjoyed his first season back in management and has praised the “tremendous” competitive nature of the competition, with so much still to be decided on the final weekend.

“It’s been tremendous, hasn’t it,” he enthused.

“To say that we’re going into the final week of the competition and we’ve got four teams where potentially any one of those could be relegated come Sunday night and you’ve still got four teams battling for that top six position, it’s pretty incredible.

“It’s been an exciting season and I’ve really enjoyed being a part of it and coming back into the coaching arena this year.”

For the Knights, who have faced an unprecedented injury crisis this term, to take the hunt for the top-six down to the final weekend is an achievement in itself.

A heartbreaking 26-24 defeat at Whitehaven at the end of June seemed to have put paid to their play-off ambitions, but a ‘team first’ mentality and a focus on bettering themselves has spurred Henderson’s side to nine wins from their last 10 Championship matches.

Monday’s dramatic victory over Batley Bulldogs left the Knights just a single point behind Halifax ahead of this weekend’s fixtures, and the head coach has been delighted with their battle through adversity.

“I’m really proud of this group of men,” he admitted. “How they’ve faced the adversity as a group this year and how they’ve come through the other side together, it’s been a real pleasure to see that.

“I’m just hopeful now that whatever the outcome is on Sunday that the players now understand what we’re trying to achieve here, what we’re trying to build and the potential to do something really special at this club in the coming years.

“We’ve certainly put some trust in our youngsters as well. They’ve learned some really good lessons which has been great, and they’ll only be better for the experience and exposure this year.

“Moving into next year, I’d like to think that with the players that we will be bringing in along with the players that we’ve retained, it’ll be a bigger squad, a deeper squad and a more competitive squad.

“That’ll hopefully set us up for a good season in 2024.”