DAVE WOODS has reiterated too much youth and not enough know-how was a big factor in his York City Knights team’s downfall this season.

Defeat at Sheffield on Sunday means the Knights sit on the trap-door to Championship One after finishing third from bottom of the Championship, and the expected formality of the Rugby Football League approving Crusaders’ application to join the second tier will confirm their relegation.

Woods has often argued a lack of experience in the ranks – of the regular players only Chris Thorman, Alex Benson, Jonny Presley and mid-season recruits James Ford and Anthony Thackeray are aged over 24 – has left them with an uphill struggle to compete at that level following promotion last year.

And while he says the club should continue to pride themselves on developing potential, citing 18-year-old local lad Ed Smith as a player to “build around”, he believes having a bit more proven ability among the squad would have made a big difference this term – and could be crucial next year if the Knights are to bounce straight back up.

Said the Aussie: “If you look at other teams, like Sheffield on Sunday, with the experience they’ve got there and what the players have done, and then look at our blokes – we’re all young blokes with potential.”

Added Woods: “I think we needed a couple more older players – players who have been around a bit.

“We lack a bit of mongrel – we’re not aggressive enough. We’re prepared to take things that come our way rather than capitalise on other teams’ errors. You need that experience in this higher level.

“If we had stayed up, we would’ve been so much better for it next year. If we did bring some players in they would’ve helped these younger blokes a lot.”

The Knights have had an average age around the 22 mark this term, with captain Benson himself only 26 and vice-captain Jack Lee 22.

The likes of Dave Sutton, 21, Tom Bush, 21, Dennis Tuffour, 22, and James Haynes, 22, are barely 12 or 24 months out of academy rugby, while Rhys Clarke, 20, and Matt Garside, 20, only joined from minnows Gateshead.

The longest-serving player, Steve Lewis, is still only 24, while leading performers in The Press Player of the Year standings, Nathan Freer and Duane Straugheir, are only 22 and 21 respectively.

“I put an arm around Ed Smith at the end (of the Sheffield game),” said Woods.

“He was distraught. It was probably his worst game of the year – probably of his life. But he’s one that we’ve got who we should be building around.

“Rhys Clarke was outstanding (on Sunday), and so was James Haynes, and Tom Bush – but they’re all young blokes. Ed’s even younger.

“There are a lot of young fellas who we need to utilise, but we’ve got to treat them right and have players around them that can help them. You can’t just throw them out into the big games and let them get destroyed.

“We’ve got quite a few who are very good but still have a lot to learn. They aren’t ready for it yet.”

Meanwhile, Wakefield’s former Knights favourite, Matt Blaymire, has been forced to retire due to a persistent knee injury, aged 29.

The full-back played 50 times, scoring 22 tries, in two spells with York either side of a year in Australia before moving to Wakefield at the end of the 2006 season. He had previously been in the academy at Belle Vue.