DONCASTER Knights resume their bid to reach the knockout stages of the revamped British & Irish Cup with the first of back-to-back Pool 8 games against Llandovery at Church Bank on Saturday.
Knights, who have a 50-50 record after their first two games in the competition, will go into the game against the Welsh Premier League title challengers on the back of a 22-17 win over Jersey at Castle Park last Friday - a result which saw them climb off the bottom of the table.
“It was a massive win with Jersey being down there with us,” skipper Matt Challinor told The Star.
“I thought that we put some good rugby together and I felt that we were always in control and led 22-3 at one stage in the third quarter.
“But it got a bit tight at the end after they had scored an opportunist try, and with the referee saying that there was still five minutes left I was just hoping that history wouldn’t repeat itself and that we’d get beat in stoppage time as happened in our last home match against Bedford.
“They weren’t a bad side - they certainly were a big side - and although they struggled in the lineout, their scrum was probably the best we’ve faced all season.
“I know I keep saying it, but when we perform well, and everybody does their jobs, we are a decent side and better than our league position - especially before last Friday’s game - would suggest.”
New team boss Clive Griffiths, who is has coached at international level in both rugby codes, steered Knights to their highest-ever placing in his last spell in charge five years ago.
The likeable second-rower is hoping that the Welshman, who is continuing to coach Wrexham-based Championship One rugby league side North Wales Crusaders, can bring the good times back to Castle Park and build on the foundations put in place by Brett Davey.
“Last week was his first full week in and he’s simplified a lot of things and has brought in more structure and accountability and defined the various roles so everybody knows what is expected of them,” said Challinor.
“But I also think that he has been mindful of not confusing us by introducing too many new things at one time.
“I think we’ll see more of his input in the next two B & I Cup games.”
As well as introducing further tactical changes, Griffiths is likely to take a look at some of the squad players yet to feature in the two games since he returned to Castle Park.
But Challinor makes it clear that the club are keen to make progress in the competition, which now features financial incentives for those clubs making it through to the last eight.
“We want to try and win every game and generate some momentum going into our next league match at Bristol and I’m sure that any lads coming in over the next fortnight will be looking to impress and take their chances,” he said.
“From what I know of Llandovery they are a decent outfit who get a few lads on loan from Scarlets.
“They are going well in the league but they got beaten at home by defending champions Pontypridd, last weekend.
“We’ve played them before in the B & I Cup and on that occasion the pitch was boggy and there was a gale-force wind blowing - the conditions certainly weren’t conducive to good rugby.
“With the recent wet weather I’m expecting it to be another tight game and in keeping with most games between English and Welsh clubs, a bit physical.
“But we’ll be going down there in a confident mood and hopefully we can come away with a result like we did when we beat Nottingham at Meadow Lane last month.”