KNUTSFORD’S captain, Sam Bensky, is confident his teammates can sustain a challenge for promotion after making a promising start to life at a higher level.

Blues won 21-5 at Bowdon’s thirds on their return to the field last Saturday after five weeks without a fixture.

It leaves them third in the North West Intermediate League’s Division Four South at Christmas, and four points adrift of a promotion position.

However they have a game in hand on Moore ahead of them.

“We’re in contention, and have to be satisfied about that,” said Bensky.

“Results tell part of the story, but we’ve placed an emphasis on performances over the past 18 months.

“They’ve improved across the board, and we have to trust the game-plan that has helped us to come this far.

“The guys have adjusted pretty well to a noticeable jump up in quality, particularly at the top of the table.”

Knutsford were promoted as champions at the end of last term, a first step on a path they hope leads the club back to the RFU Northern Division.

They withdrew from that part of the pyramid following a disappointing 2015-2016 campaign that yielded a single victory.

Bensky said: “We measure our progress on how far we’ve come since.

“At that stage, we were getting 40 or 50 points put on us by sides like Moore who we ran really close earlier this season.

“They’re benchmarks for us.

“It’s been interesting as well to receive feedback from guys on the periphery of the squad who have come back to help us out.

“One of them, Jim Whittaker, said he felt the improvement had been significant when he played for the first time in a while recently.”

He told the Guardian that Knutsford have work to do if they are to celebrate back-to-back promotions come the end of April.

The teams above them, Lymm fourths and Moore, are both scheduled to visit Knutsford Academy in the second-half of the season.

Indeed, Blues’ only defeats to date have been away to their rivals.

Bensky said: “I think it’s between the three of us, but I’d also argue that the sides immediately below are good enough to trip us all up, which happened when Sandbach thirds beat Lymm recently.

“It’s important that we stay composed under pressure, and remember the collective responsibility we have to control a game.

“If we do that, then we’ll win more often than not.”

Knutsford are scheduled to play again on Saturday, January 6.