London Irish v Doncaster Knights: Irish are the team to beat - Griffiths

Clive Griffiths
Clive Griffiths

For the second season in a row Doncaster Knights kick-off their Championship campaign against the side relegated from the Premiership, writes Steve Hossack.

But whereas Knights were at home to London Welsh on the opening day of the season 12 months ago, Knights will be breaking new ground when taking on London Irish at Reading’s Madejski Stadium.

The Exiles narrowly took the spoils but flattered to deceive and finished well adrift of the play-off places.

Doncaster’s director of rugby Clive Griffiths doesn’t see the same thing happening to Irish and predicts that they will be the team to beat along with Yorkshire Carnegie.

“They’ve got a very strong squad packed with star players, some of whom are internationals,” said the Welshman. “But as we saw last season against Bristol, who we beat twice at Ashton Gate, that doesn’t always translate into victory.”

Knights will lack a number of the side – including centre Will Hurrell and No 8 Ollie Stedman who were both outstanding - which beat Bristol at Ashton Gate in the second-leg of the play-off final in May.

“They both did a good job for the club taking us forward and we’d have liked to have kept them,” said Griffiths. But I’m very confident that the guys we’ve brought in to replace those two and others will do an equally good job for us.

“They will definitely start as favourites tomorrow and anything we get down there will be a great result for us be it a win, three-point draw or a two-point losing defeat which is what happened against Welsh and it didn’t have an adverse affect on our season.”