YORK Knights boss Mark Applegarth could not fault his side's effort against Sheffield Eagles, but feels as though they should have been more clinical in their pursuit of a third consecutive win.

Applegarth’s 100 per cent record at the Knights came to a halt against the Eagles, who ground out a hard-fought 18-10 victory – their third across all competitions at the LNER Community Stadium this season.

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The scoreline proved to be much closer than previous 32-16 and 28-18 results had suggested, despite Sheffield producing another characteristic fast start, with Kris Welham breaking the deadlock with just seven minutes played.

Home captain Liam Harris had an equalising try ruled out before ex-Knights half-back Anthony Thackeray sold their defence a dummy before crashing over on the left edge.

That handed the Eagles a 12-0 half-time lead, but York responded well after the break, with Brad Ward collecting Will Dagger’s sublime cut-out pass before flying into the corner.

Returning prop Ronan Michael dropped the ball as he looked set to score on the hour, but Ata Hingano provided a moment of magic as he cut back onto his left foot to cut the gap to two, leaving the result still in the balance with five minutes left to play.

It was a case of ‘what if?’ as Harris looked to have been impeded in pursuit of Hingano’s grubber from the next set, but the day belonged to the visitors, with Joel Farrell burrowing over from close range to make sure of the result inside the final minute.

“I thought there were two good teams going at each other,” Applegarth admitted.

“We just spoke about it in there, and I can’t fault anyone in terms of the effort or spirit, we just got taught a lesson on how to be a bit more clinical in our execution in certain areas.

“I don’t think we transitioned the ball as well as we would have liked in that first half, and a bit of our skill execution was off, and our contacts.

“We fixed them up and I felt that we had Sheffield on the rocks, but I’ve got to give credit to them for hanging on there, and we probably left ourselves too much to do against a team of that quality.”

Applegarth had not underestimated the power of weathering the Eagles’ early storm, for the Knights had given away a 16-point lead inside the opening quarter of an hour in their ill-fated AB Sundecks 1895 Cup semi-final in May.

But Mark Aston’s side found things noticeably tougher this time around, with Marsh’s kick cannoning back off Hingano and into the path of Welham to give them the lead, and the Knights having made a number of strong tackles before Thackeray crashed over to double their advantage.

York could not find a way through themselves inside the opening 40 minutes, and though half-back pair Harris and Hingano were marshalled excellently, their head coach felt that they should have been more clinical with the chances that did come their way.

“There were a couple of times [York had chances],” Applegarth explained.

“There was one time when we made a clean break, but there was nobody about. I just thought our clinical-ness and execution was probably what cost us.

“We got taught a bit of a lesson that if we do want to be in the play-offs and playing in those games, we have to be a bit sharper to keep us on the front foot when we get those opportunities.

“It stings at the moment, but we’ll get a review done on Tuesday, draw a line in the sand and get ready for another tough game against Barrow next week.”