YORK Knights head coach Andrew Henderson concedes that his side were "nowhere near good enough" in the second half after letting slip an 8-0 lead in their Betfred Championship Play-off Eliminator at Bradford Bulls last night.

Having defied the odds to even make the division's top six with victory at Barrow Raiders on the final day of the regular season, Henderson's charges were in dreamland after a Liam Harris penalty and converted Jesse Dee try saw them lead half an hour into the contest.

But the Knights were the architects of their own downfall from thereon in, the pressure of three defensive sets on their line, coupled with a mistake from the resultant kick-off, seeing the fancied Bulls turn the game on its head to lead at the interval.

And things seldom improved for York after the break, Tom Holmes adding to his side's lead three minutes after the restart, before Jordan Lilley converted two penalties with ease to seal a deserved 22-8 victory.

REPORT: One game too far as York Knights bow out in Play-off Eliminator

Having been relatively comfortable for the opening half an hour, Henderson admitted he had been disappointed with the way in which his side repeatedly invited pressure onto their line through errors.

However, he believed that the turning point had been Lee Greenwood's introduction of forward trio Keven Appo, Fenton Rogers and Eribe Doro, a strong bench that had been ill-afforded to his injury-hit side.

“Obviously, we’re very disappointed in there in the manner of which we probably lost the game," he reflected.

“I thought for the first 30 minutes, we were playing play-off rugby – we were very patient, disciplined and methodical in our approach and process, we were in control at 8-0 up.

“I thought that the turning point was the Bradford bench, the three big boppers came on in Appo, Doro and Rogers and I just thought that they added a real impetus to their go-forward.

“But ultimately, just before half time, in about six to eight minutes, we come up with four negative actions on the bounce. We conceded a repeat set, then we give a penalty away for a ball steal, a six-again on our try line, with three back-to-back sets defending, they then crash over with a pretty soft try close to the line.

“Then the next opportunity, we kick off and it goes out on the full, it gives them the field position again and they fall over with another crash over.

“It was disappointing to go into half time 12-8 down because I thought that we’d been in control for the majority of that first half."

RECAP: Bradford Bulls 22-8 York Knights - Play-off Eliminator

Having been victim to a devastating six-minute spell before the break, the Knights quickly found themselves with a 10-point deficit and struggling to compete against a noticeably stronger Bradford pack.

A set completion rate that had been 100 per cent during the opening 40 minutes was halved, they were wasteful of the rare opportunities that did come their way, and were guilty of needless unforced errors.

“We came out in the second half and unfortunately our ball control and our discipline was nowhere near good enough to win a play-off game, pure and simple," Henderson continued.

“I think we had 12 sets of possession in that second half and completed at 50 per cent of that, and then you add on the fact that we conceded four or five penalties in that second half, they kick a 40/20 and get three repeat sets and a few six-agains that we gave away.

“Ultimately, you start to see the picture of the amount of pressure that we were under in that second half and had to absorb.

“It’s probably a credit to our group and the fight and spirit in them defensively that they kept turning up and that they didn’t get a blow-out score against us and that we kept competing.

“But ultimately, we weren’t good enough in that second half to wrestle the momentum back and get ourselves back into that cycle and put the opposition under pressure.

“We just couldn’t do it."

York Press: Stand-in full-back Joe Brown was the standout for the Knights in a tough battle against his former side.Stand-in full-back Joe Brown was the standout for the Knights in a tough battle against his former side. (Image: Craig Hawkhead)

Injuries, a tough play-off run in and a seemingly 'off night' all contributed to their defeat, Henderson believes - but he has been delighted with the Knights' season.

“There’s probably an element of the majority of the group not expecting us to even be here – you’re preparing for your season to end a week ago and then it’s ‘oh right, we’re in the play-offs now!’

“The fact that we were down to our last 17 fit and available players and we again had to move a few pieces out of position to make the best opportunity that we could with what we’ve got. You’ve again got a bit of disruption to the team.

“But I think that if we look at the overall season as a whole, we’ve got to be pretty proud as a club with what we’ve achieved.”