Ampthill v Doncaster Knights: Build-up and team news ahead of Knights' latest Championship clash

Doncaster Knights will break new ground on Saturday when travelling down to Bedfordshire to tackle Championship rivals Ampthill (2.15pm).

Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 10:50 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 10:51 am
Clive Griffiths

Last season’s National One champions will go into the game holding down sixth spot and Doncaster’s director of rugby Clive Griffiths admits that they have exceeded his expectations to date in their debut season in the Championship.

Griffiths spent time helping out with the coaching at Ampthill before returning for a second spell at Castle Park and is familiar with the set-up.

“The surroundings and atmosphere down there are very different to most grounds at this level – it’s very open - and it is very important that the players quickly adapt to that,” he said.

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“They are a very workmanlike side and have some experienced players and we are expecting it to be tough. But it’s certainly a winnable game.”

The two sides had contrasting fortunes last weekend with Knights claiming an injury-time win over visiting Nottingham and Ampthill, who were bidding for a third successive league win, crashing to an 11-try 77-26 defeat at Ealing.

“Ealing are a very strong side with a lot of good players and they’ve shown before that they are capable of scoring a lot of points when they click,” said Griffiths, who noted that Ampthill picked up a bonus point after scoring four tries.

“The coaches, who made eleven changes to the squad which beat Coventry, will certainly be looking for a reaction this weekend and that’s something we’ve got to be ready for.”

Injury-plagued centre Jack Roberts, who made a rare appearance this season when coming on as a late replacement against Nottingham, retains his place in the 23-man squad, but second-rower Matt Smith remains at least another week away from returning to action.

Knights hosted Super League giants Hull FC in a joint public training session on Tuesday with both Griffiths and Black and Whites’ boss Lee Radford being pleased with the session.

“The only disappointment was that more people didn’t come,” said Griffiths.