York City Knights chief turns the tables on Featherstone Rovers

YORK CITY KNIGHTS coach James Ford feels all the pressure is on lower-ranked Featherstone Rovers in tomorrow’s Championship sudden-death play-off.

Knights head coach: James Ford.

York finished third, two places above their opponents, after a brilliant campaign following promotion as League 1 champions.

They lost their qualifying final at second-placed Toulouse Olympique but have a second chance to progress to the preliminary final when Featherstone arrive at Bootham Crescent. Asked about now playing under such pressure, Ford said: “It’s play-off football but I don’t see why it will be any different for us.

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“Featherstone have been established as a top-four, top-five Championship club for some time now. I don’t see any pressure on us. We’ll just focus on us and go about our business the best we can. We’ll let Fev worry about pressure and expectation.”

Featherstone showed their threat, though, with a thrilling elimination play-off win at Leigh Centurions on Sunday.

Furthermore, although they lost 22-18 at York in their last meeting, Featherstone twice put more than 40 points on them when winning at Blackpool and Post Office Road earlier this year.

Dual-registered Leeds Rhinos stand-off Callum McLelland is in fine form and Ford, shortlisted for Championship Coach of the Year earlier this week, said: “They are a good side. Featherstone could probably have beaten (leaders) Toronto on both occasions; that highlights just how good they are. We expect them to come after us.

“It’s good to see Callum McLelland playing well. I had him with England Academy and if he keeps working hard he can mature into a top, top player.

“They are certainly getting the best out of him at the moment. We’ll need to be good against him and he caused us problems last time we played. I’d expect Cam King to come back in and he’s quality. But I believe their main strength is the pack, the physicality of their forwards and how they defend and carry them forward.”

York were vanquished 44-6 at Toulouse, who aim to cause a shock and reach the Grand Final when they visit Toronto Wolfpack tomorrow.

Ford described them as “exceptional” and added: “They scored some outstanding tries and chanced their arm at times with the offloads and plays they selected but they all came off.”