Countdown to D-Day: Blackheath will present a very sturdy roadblock for Doncaster Knights

The Knights will be hoping for a similar outcome on Saturday to when Blackheath visited Castle Park on the opening day.
The Knights will be hoping for a similar outcome on Saturday to when Blackheath visited Castle Park on the opening day.

Blocking the Knights’ path back to the Championship is the oldest rugby club in the world.

The Knights may have swept to a comfortable 47-17 victory Blackheath on the opening day but few will be expecting as comfortable an afternoon on Saturday.

Whether it is a continuation of the remarkable resurgence from the South London outfit, or merely a determination to spoil the Knights’ promotion party, Blackheath are set to be a strong roadblock on their own turf.

It has been a season of two halves for the oldest recognised club in the world, seeing them transform from struggling at Christmas to powering up the table with eight wins from their last ten games.

Clive Griffiths for one is expecting a difficult afternoon in the capital.

He said: “It’s going to be tough.

“They’re probably the most improved team in the division. In the last eight they’ve lost once and drawn once.

“They beat Coventry quite convincingly at home, they went to Wharfedale and won and although they fell apart at Blaydon, it wasn’t a big defeat.”

Blackheath drafted in a number of players on loan and dual registration agreements from neighbouring clubs such as London Scottish and London Welsh as they mounted their resurgence.

Former Knights centre James Tincknell was one such player and earned rave reviews for his performances.

Blackheath have already played a role in the title race after defeating Rosslyn Park at home 15-12 at the start of February.

Their desire for a double against National One’s leading two sides will be driven by personal pride rather than any other stakes.

Relegation is no longer a threat meaning they have little to play for.

But the same applied to Coventry who put up a fierce battle against the Knights a fortnight ago.

Griffiths said: “How determined they’ll be remains to be seen, whether they want to ruin the season for us like Coventry were determined to do.

“Coventry tried to slow down our ball and I’m sure Blackheath will do the same.

“Once you go out on the field as a player, pride of performance takes over, certainly in the early stages.

“It’s important we control the game.

“If we do that then maybe their minds will start drifting to the beaches of Majorca and Marbella while we’re thinking about promotion.”