Doncaster Knights bid to hold onto B&I Cup top spot in Ireland

Clive Griffiths
Clive Griffiths

Doncaster Knights will be defending an unbeaten record in British & Irish Cup qualifying games dating back three years in Saturday's Pool Five match at Connacht Eagles, writes Steve Hossack.

Only Worcester have lowered Knights' colours in the competition since they lost their concluding Pool Eight game at Melrose in 2013 - in last year’s final at Castle Park.

Although Knights had gone into the final as underdogs, the fact that they had beaten Bristol in the semi-final meant an upset was a real possibility on the day.

Director of rugby Clive Griffiths had promised that Knights would give the competition a ‘real go’ last season but made no such statement at the start of the current campaign.

There was some concern on Griffiths’ part that the quarter-final ties were sandwiched between two tricky-looking Championship fixtures.

But given their start to the season – and the fact that the Welshman went on record recently saying that just three more wins would probably be good enough for the club to retain their top-four spot – that may not be such an issue now.

Knights go into the game at lowly Connacht three points clear of second-placed Jersey, realistically needing to win both remaining games to be certain of securing a home tie in the knockout stages.

With Jersey expected to see off visiting Newport-Gwent Dragons Select at the weekend, it is looking increasingly likely that the return at Castle Park on Saturday week will be the decider.

Should that prove to the case, the battle for top spot is likely to go down to the wire given the closeness of the scores in the three games between the two sides this season.