‘Testing time’ nearly finished

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DONCASTER Knights, who cannot improve upon eighth place, will go into battle for the fourth time in 10 days in tonight’s Championship encounter against leaders Bristol at the Memorial Stadium (7.45pm).

Although the final positions in the table won’t be known until the completion of this weekend’s fixtures, both Doncaster and Bristol will feature in Pool A which will comprise of teams finishing first, fourth, sixth and eighth.

The two teams met on the opening day of the season at Castle Park where the former Premiership club ran out 38-12 winners and they will start hot favourites to complete the double over a Doncaster side which looked very tired in Wednesday’s defeat at fourth-placed London Welsh.

“It has been a very testing time for the players and we just want to go down there and get the game played, and hopefully come through it without picking up any more injuries and then start getting ready for the play-offs,” said Knights’ boss Brett Davey, who is forced to include himself on the bench.

“I don’t think either the result of the game at Castle Park, when we were a little under-cooked in terms of preparation, or tonight’s game, will have any psychological advantage come the play-offs.”

Davey rings the changes with fly-half Mike Whitehead starting at full-back and Ben Toft taking over from the free-scoring Michael Keating on the wing. Strong-running flanker Latu Makaafi starts in the centre alongside Oli Goss.

Skipper Chris Hallam returns at scrum-half after being rested in Wednesday’s game. Back-rower Andy Boyde, who missed the Welsh game with a hamstring problem, returns to action in the second-row.

Knights: Whitehead; Flockhart, Goss, Makaafi, Toft; Quinn-McDonogh, Hallam; Corsar, Boden, Burke-Flynn, Boyde, Parsons, Kettle, Bradford, Planchant.