Doncaster RLFC v York City Knights: Dons’ ‘fortress Keepmoat’ mission

Makali Aizue

Makali Aizue

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Dons head coach Gary Thornton has stressed the importance of making the Keepmoat Stadium a fortress ahead of today’s clash with York City Knights.

The club suffered their first defeat of the season at Hunslet in the Challenge Cup last week.

But Thornton knows home form will be key if they are to challenge for League One promotion this term.

“We don’t want to lose to York. We targeted home games at the start of the season,” he said.

“We claimed a good win away at Keighley and we certainly don’t want to slip up at home.

“We’ll try to make the Keepmoat a fortress. We don’t want it to be an easy place to visit for opposition teams. We don’t want them to enjoy it.

“It won’t be easy, York will be tough.

“There’ll be players on both sides who will be facing their old teams, and I know there’s a few lads in the dressing room who are particularly looking forward to it.

“It’ll be a fairly evenly fought contest, and it might well come down to who can hold their nerve best on the day.

“Experience can hopefully see us through.”

Thornton said his squad recognised they had a bad day at the office at Hunslet and were eager to put it behind them by reacting well against York.

“We’re hugely disappointed, but we know where we let ourselves down,” he said.

“Hunslet were very enthusiastic and we just never reacted to it.

“Our defence needs to improve.

“We had a heart to heart in training this week and we’re ready to go again against York. I apologise to fans who went to Hunslet, I expected more, as I’m sure they did, as I know the players did.

“It’s a massive disappointment but we won’t dwell on it.

“We’ve played well this season so far until then, and a lot went against us. It was one of those days, we intend to put it right on Friday.”

Thornton admitted he faces something of an injury crisis, with 15 players having needed some degree of treatment this week.

He said: “George Milton will be missing, Kyle Kesik too maybe. David Foggin-Johnston has a shoulder injury, Mike Kelly suffered a concussion. It’s not ideal ahead of a big game, but we certainly won’t use it as an excuse.

“Makali Aizue looks like he’ll be back in the fold and that will be a welcome return.”