Doncaster RLFC v Batley Bulldogs: Build-up and team news ahead of Dons' final pre-season friendly

Doncaster RLFC complete their pre-season fixtures with a home game against Championship side Batley Bulldogs tomorrow (3pm).

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 27th January 2018, 5:00 am
Connor Scott celebrates his try against London. Photo: Rob Terrace
Connor Scott celebrates his try against London. Photo: Rob Terrace

“Like last Sunday’s game against London Broncos it will be a good test for the boys because Batley are a strong Championship club and finished in the top four and played in the Middle 8s in 2016,” said head coach Richard Horne.

With Doncaster Rovers Belles already having a WSL2 home fixture arranged at the Keepmoat Stadium, the Dons-Batley game will be played at the nearby athletics stadium where the club played several league games last season.

“I’ve got no issues with that,” said Horne. “A field is a field.”

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After running the full-time Broncos close, Horne is looking for a similar committed display from his charges.

“There are obviously things in both attack and defence that we’ll be looking to improve upon even though I was pleased with how we played against Broncos considering it was our first proper run-out,” he said.

Horne was slightly critical of the handling at times against the Broncos but says he will continue to encourage his side to play an expansive game.

“If the players see something on in attack they’ve got the freedom to try and take it,” he said.

“I want them to play off the cuff at times and play what they see and we can do that because we’ve got some skilful lads in the team who can hopefully exploit those opportunities.

“It will be a similar squad to the side which played against London Broncos though we might have the odd dual-reg.”

One man who will be missing again tomorrow is play-maker Jordan Howden.

The stand-off missed most of last season with a hip problem on which he has since had surgery.

“Jordan is a very good player; he’s very smart and reads the game well,” said Horne.

“He’s not far off and hopefully he’ll make the start of the season. He’s looking great in training and he’s moving well.”

Although Horne has had to make do with just two warm-up games as a result of Leigh crying off he told The Star: “I’m as happy as I can be with how pre-season has gone in view of the fact that we are a part-time club and the players work for a living during the day.

“A lot of the players arrive at training after a hard day’s graft so to expect them to train like professionals is asking a lot of them.

“The difference working with full-time and part-time players is something that I learned very quickly when I started coaching but, all the boys come here three times a week and work hard and they have bought into what we are trying to do and it’s great to see that out on the training field.”