JAMES FORD insisted that York City Knights “never lost confidence” in their play-off bid after a 26-24 against-the-odds victory at Halifax Panthers.
York finished sixth in the regular season, three spots behind third-placed Halifax, who entered the Betfred Championship play-off quarter-final tie as huge favourites, having won 19 of their previous 22 matches.
The Knights battled through a depleted injury list, which showed eight missing players, to seal a historic win at The Shay, secured thanks to a halfway-line penalty goal from James Glover.
“I’m really pleased and really proud of the players,” said head coach Ford.
“They’ve performed pretty well all season and they’ve had some tough questions asked of them as a squad at times, in terms of injuries and suspensions.
“But we never lost confidence that we could come into the play-offs and win our first ever play-off game at this level.
“I think you could see that the boys were very confident out there and they worked so hard for one another, it was really endearing to see.”
In the build-up, Ford had spoken of his desire to see “all out attack” at The Shay, in a move away from the usual attritional and patient style of rugby league seen during the coach’s reign.
“With some of the personnel that we had missing, we had to come and play a slightly different way,” he explained.
“Whatever the game plan is, you’ve all got to be on board with it. I presented the idea to the boys, and I’ve been in meetings before when a coach has said something and you’re thinking, ‘What on Earth is he talking about?’
“They’ve jumped on board with it, run with it all week and carried it off to a tee. So, well done to them.”
Ford added: “We wanted to push the pass, create opportunities and put their half-backs under pressure by taking time and space away from them.
“We wanted to try and rattle them a little bit. I felt on occasions we were successful with that.”