MARK Applegarth lauded York Knights’ togetherness as they battled back to secure their first league win at Featherstone Rovers in 67 years.

Having trailed 18-6 at the interval, an inspired second half performance saw the Knights run out 34-24 winners in the West Yorkshire sunshine, maintaining Applegarth’s 100 per cent record since his appointment earlier this month.

Featherstone initially lived up to their billing as the heavy favourites, with early tries from Brad Day and Caleb Aekins seeing them score at more than a point a minute after a blistering start.

Paul Turner eked out their advantage after finishing off a flowing team move, but though the Knights replied through interchange prop Jack Teanby, a Dec Patton penalty saw Rovers have the final word before the break.

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But the Knights came out of the traps like lightning in the second half, with Joe Brown providing a flying finish into the right corner before Josh Daley and Ukuma Ta’ai struck from close range within minutes of each other.

Turner crossed for his second as the hosts fought back to level the scores, but Ata Hingano’s game-changing 40/20 provided the platform for York to score twice in the final 10 minutes on an afternoon likely to live long in the memory.

“I’m really, really proud,” Applegarth enthused of his side’s pulsating comeback.

“It’s fair to say that we didn’t start how we wanted. We knew that Featherstone were big starters, and they’re a big set.

“I thought we dipped our toe in a bit at the start, but I’m really happy with the spirit that we showed to wrestle it back to where we were, 18-6 at half time – especially going up that hill.

“We knew that if we got fixed up, kept the ball in play and play the way that we wanted to, we’d get a chance.

“I can’t speak highly enough of how together this group are, and I’m really proud of them.”

Ata Hingano earned our Man of the Match, with his 40/20 with 10 minutes remaining a crucial point in the Knights' win.Ata Hingano earned our Man of the Match, with his 40/20 with 10 minutes remaining a crucial point in the Knights' win. (Image: Craig Hawkhead Photography)

Featherstone had romped to a 46-4 triumph in last year’s fixture at the Millennium Stadium and showed early signs of a repeat against the Knights – whose line-up included Nikau Williams as a makeshift centre for the second consecutive week.

Day proved too big and too strong for York’s try-line defence as he profited from a penalty for a high tackle, whilst Aekins was seemingly given a clear run to ground debutant Patton’s grubber into the left corner.

“We knew they were going to target our right edge,” Applegarth explained. “Obviously we’ve got a half-back playing at centre, so we knew we were going to get tested.

“I thought we missed the jump; I thought Featherstone started better than us. They just had more energy and more decisiveness about them.

“When you come up against quality teams like Featherstone, you’re going to get punished for it, and we certainly did.

“But how we adapted on the go and put in a few tweaks to negate that, I’ve got to give credit to the team, because that’s high-level rugby league. It’s alright having a plan, but you’ve got to be able to adapt and compromise as you go, and I can’t speak highly enough of the team.

“I know it’s me that’s going to get the plaudits, but Cooky (Paul Cooke), Ged (Corcoran) and Will (Leatt) in the coaching team and how they’ve gone about their business this weekend and put the plan in place, I’m really happy with that.

“The most credit goes to that 17 that went out on the field, they’re the guys that go out and put their bodies on the line to get the win or loss.”