CAPTAIN Liam Harris believes that York Knights’ thrilling comeback at Featherstone Rovers on Sunday was a just reward for their efforts under new boss Mark Applegarth.

Jack Teanby, Joe Brown, Josh Daley, Ukuma Ta’ai, and Ata Hingano all found the whitewash before Harris’ long-range effort put the icing on the cake for the Knights - who claimed their first league win at the West Yorkshire club since 1957.

For Featherstone, managed by former York chief James Ford, their 34-24 defeat marked their fourth in a row. Their six losses so far in 2024 already equal that from their three previous seasons combined.

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“It was really, really hot!” laughed the Knights’ skipper, grateful for the shade provided as he took a seat in Featherstone’s main stand after the final whistle.

“But it was a win that was really well deserved for the boys’ efforts.

“We weren’t perfect, and there were times where we could have been a lot better, but to come to Featherstone – I’ve just been told we’ve not won here in such a long time – and to get the job done is credit to the boys and how hard they have worked hard over the last couple of weeks.

“It’s not just for the boys, but the playing staff, coaches, physios. It’s a big reward for everyone.”

The hosts had started brightly at the Millennium Stadium, with early tries from Brad Day, Caleb Aekins and Paul Turner handing them a 16-0 lead.

York hit back through Teanby but debutant Dec Patton slotted over a penalty after a tackle from Brenden Santi, seeing Featherstone enter the sheds 18-6 up.

Joe Brown provided this flying finish into the corner, his sixth try in his last five matches.Joe Brown provided this flying finish into the corner, his sixth try in his last five matches. (Image: Craig Hawkhead Photography)

But the Knights crucially struck first after the break, producing a second half as glorious as the weather.

Brown provided a characteristic flying finish into the right corner four minutes after the interval, with Daley and Ta’ai then powering over from close range to hand them the lead for the first time just before the hour.

Turner broke through the Knights’ line to drag his side back level shortly after, but Hingano’s game changing 40/20 paved the way for a final flourish on an afternoon to remember for Applegarth’ s side.

Echoing his head coach, Harris credited a togetherness for how the Knights were able to regroup after Featherstone’s blistering start.

When asked what was key to their comeback, he insisted: “Togetherness. 

“I think the last couple of weeks, we’ve really showed a togetherness to work hard for the guy next to you.

“Again, that’s collectively within the staff, and I think it’s paid dividends now. Hopefully we can build on this and continue to progress through the year.

“There’s some really good people within the group. Sometimes when you’re in an environment with so many people, not everybody will get along, and that’s natural. But we’ve got a good group here who really do get along together and love coming to work each day.”

Featherstone’s fast start came as little surprise, for leaving it late to mount a fightback has been characteristic of the Knights so far this season.

As such, Harris admits he felt comfortable, even after the Rovers had been given a 16-point head start.

“It sounds crazy, but I was comfortable at 16-0 down,” he explained.

“I knew the work that we’d put in, if we could just be a little bit better on our kick transitions, how we turned the ball over and sort our defence out a little bit, I knew we would come back because there was a lot of space when we did have the ball.

“It was just about building pressure, spending some time down there, and the reward would come off the back of that.”

Harris put the icing on the cake for the Knights with a long-range effort in the dying minutes.Harris put the icing on the cake for the Knights with a long-range effort in the dying minutes. (Image: Craig Hawkhead Photography)

It was fitting that the Knights’ captain had the final word, combining with full-back Will Dagger in a length-of-the-field effort to make sure of the points in the dying minutes.

Pointing to the travelling fans as he charged through unchallenged, the magnitude of just what his side had achieved was not lost on the half-back, who brought up 100 appearances for the club in last weekend's 40-0 demolition at Dewsbury.

“It’s somewhere I’ve been before, and been on the wrong end of some big scorelines,” Harris reflected.

“They’re a great team are Featherstone, so I just want to enjoy this win and enjoy the experience with the fans. We’ve not won here in such a long time.

“That was for them. They’ve stuck by us over this tough period, and now hopefully we can pay them back with some good performances.”