IT was a very relieved crowd at Castle Park last Saturday after Doncaster Knights had beaten Esher and gained a bonus point to confirm their place in the promotion play-offs that start in March.
With four games still left to play this was a good achievement and the emphasis will now be on beating London Welsh, Nottingham and Bristol away and Rotherham at home to work their way up the table to gain points to carry forward into the promotion groups.
With only 10 points separating Knights in seventh place and Bedford in third, and with Doncaster having a game in hand over all of them, anything is possible!
After the Esher game, the Knights coaching staff, led by Director of Rugby Brett Davey, and the players, could look back on their achievement for the season and look forward to March confident in their ability to go a long way in the promotion play-offs, and even win the two legged final, provided they can avoid any further injuries and add consistency to some of their outstanding results.
This Saturday the Knights travel to London to play the legendary London Welsh, a club that in the 70s was the most feared in the land and who provided eight British Lions.
Although their lamp doesn’t shine as brightly any more they are still a force to be reckoned with in the Championship and the Knights will be looking to up their game when they visit Old Deer Park.
Last week saw the arrival of a number of new faces, and one old one, as the Knights sort to bolster their injury-hit squad ahead of last Thursday’s transfer deadline.
The Knights welcomed fly-half Gareth Quinn McDonogh from Munster in Ireland, prop Tomas Francis from Leeds University and centre/full-back Toby Berridge from Cambridge as well as former lock Dan Smith, back in South Yorkshire after a spell with Barking.
Gareth, who was last year’s Irish Under 20s fly half, links up with his Under-20s scrum half Michael Heaney, an Ulsterman who joined the Knights at the end of December.
Finally a brief word about last Saturday’s past players lunch which, as usual, was well organised by Neil Watson.
It was great to see two of my regular readers there – Peter Waddington and Mike Thickett – and to catch up with many old friends.
What brought my age home to me however was the fact that several past players brought their grown up sons with them as guests!