“WE need to get our start right,” said boss James Ford in the build-up to York City Knights’ clash at old arch-rivals Hunslet.

Well, it’s fair to say they did that, embarrassing their hosts in the first half and going on to win 52-20 for a sixth successive League One win – and arguably the best of the lot, especially for the fans who have enjoyed banter aplenty with their south Leeds counterparts down the years.

Losing two players in the warm-up hadn’t helped, nor did a few early mistakes which left them defending their line for the first 10 minutes.

However, after passing that defensive test, they took the lead in their first attack and for the remainder of the first half ran riot, winning every contact, troubling defenders at will and scoring six converted tries without reply.

Unlike in recent weeks, Ford did not have to work some magic at half-time.

Hunslet regained some pride in the second period, the Knights understandably taking their foot off the gas and losing some snap, but Ford’s buoyant troops still hit the half-century mark to bag loud bragging rights.

It also saw Ford get one over on his predecessor at York, Gary Thornton, for the second time this season, having also beaten Thornton’s old Doncaster team at Easter.

Ford made three changes to the side that came from behind to beat London Skolars last week – including one notable debut.

The head coach had said he was going to maintain the Jonny Presley- Liam Harris combination at half-back rather than throw Connor Robinson straight in, but either that was kidology or he had a change of mind as the notable new signing did make his bow in Presley’s stead.

The former Halifax half-back didn’t have a bad day at all, capped by eight conversions out of nine, although he probably played second fiddle to the in-form Harris.

Jake Butler-Fleming, the Aussie centre who had arrived on dual-reg from Hull KR, was also expected to make his debut, but he was one of the players to pull out in the warm-up due to hamstring trouble so Nev Morrison remained at centre – bagging a try too.

Andy Ellis also pulled out - not for the first time this term – due to his ongoing calf problem. However, the Knights knew they were doubtful and Will Jubb, like Morrison, had travelled as back-up, and he again impressed too.

Fellow dual-reg regular Kieran Moran was also back, replacing big Bobby Tyson-Wilson as interchange prop.

Two early penalties aided Hunslet and they got a third after Tommy Saxton – in an inauspicious start to the 350th appearance of a wonderful career – lost the ball in his own half.

Saxton was rescued by the defence, though, firstly when Robinson somehow denied Mufaro Mvududu, and then when Ash Robson beat Mvududu to a kick.

The hosts were denied again from the dropout, the goalline defence well aware of former Knights hooker Jack Lee’s threat from dummy-half and holding him up.

Instead, York took the lead – starting the fun-filled rout.

It came after their first penalty took play upfield, with Chris Siddons smartly changing the line of attack and Ed Smith stepping through and reaching over.

A second soon followed, after York forced a home error.

Harris showed the ball twice then disappeared through the line of defence for a cracking old-fashioned half-back’s try.

Then came a cracking team score.

Siddons shrugged off men infield and the ball was expertly spun left, Hunslet’s right-side defence carved apart by the timing of the passes as James Haynes sent Dee Foggin-Johnston away.

The winger cut inside and returned the favour for Haynes to cross.

Two minutes later, that right-side defence was beaten again, play taken to the whitewash by Jubb, with Robinson’s fine pass from dummy-half allowing Siddons to crash over for a try his opening stint deserved.

Home fans weren’t happy, their arch-rivals dominating every aspect, and clearly enjoying themselves.

It soon got worse for the hosts, too, as Harry Carter, adding impetus as usual when entering at hooker, sliced through brilliantly and sent Tim Spears running home.

Chants of “embarrassing, embarrassing” from the home fans rang out – and their players were left red-faced again before half-time.

Morrison and Saxton superbly kept the ball alive on the right flank and when it came inside to Robson, the full-back – so busy he was almost omnipresent all over the pitch – jinked, darted, ran laterally, cut through and put the ball on a plate for Joe Batchelor to cross.

The scoring re-started two minutes into the second half.

Again Harris was the creator, ghosting through and feeding Ronan Dixon who handed on to Batchelor. The second-row seemed to be halted but spun over the whitewash and touched down one-handed.

Hunslet, just about kept a lid on frustrations, helped when Ford withdrew tormentor-in-chief Robson, presumably to spare him any retribution. And they regained some pride with three tries in 16 minutes.

Firstly, Liam Mackay brushed off Haynes to cross after a couple of penalties had built pressure.

Then, after a 40-20 by Danny Ansell, Sean Hesketh powered over to make it 42-8.

Heading into the last quarter, Jubb held up Michael Haley as the prop barged through, as did Tim Spears on Lewis Reed, but, from a Jimmy Watson kick, on-loan Batley winger Michael Hayward touched down, Ansell converting from out wide, to cut the gap further.

In between times, the hosts denied York more tries after sets in the red zone, Robinson’s long scoring pass to Foggin-Johnston being called forward.

However, the Knights were not done, and, when Jubb went down the short side, Morrison reached over.

Hunslet hooker George Flanagan continued his recent scoring run after breaking through poor tackles as the game tailed off, but York had the last word and brought up the half-century as Jubb burrowed under.