Challenge Cup: Doncaster RLFC set for tough test at Widnes Vikings

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Doncaster RLFC hit the Wembley trail for the second successive weekend when travelling to the DCBL Stadium on Sunday to face seven-times winners Widnes Vikings in their third round Betfred Rugby League Challenge Cup third round tie.

Both sides go into the game on the back of defeats in the group stages of the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup last weekend and the Vikings would need to beat North Wales by over 50 points to stand a chance of contesting the quarter-finals next month.

The Dons came close to causing an upset when they last met in the Challenge Cup at the same venue back in 2013 when Widnes were still a Super League side. They led 12-0 in the first quarter and only trailed by four points 15 minutes from time before conceding a couple of late tries.

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Likely to be boosted by the return of several players who missed the narrow defeat against Sheffield Eagles, including Brad Knowles and Reece Lyne – though they will lack second-row Alex Sutcliffe due to head injury protocols - the Dons will go into the game on the back of an encouraging showing against Mark Aston’s side.

Richard Horne. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX.comRichard Horne. Picture: Howard Roe/
Richard Horne. Picture: Howard Roe/

“There were a lot of positives from that game although there is still a ton of work for us to do,” said head coach Richard Horne. “We’ve bought in a lot of new players this season and we are still learning what works best for us.”

Despite having prioritized the league in recent seasons, Horne is keen for the Dons to progress in the Challenge Cup this time around.

“As well as wanting to go as far as we can in the Challenge Cup we also don’t want to find ourselves in the situation where we won’t have another game for over a month before we start the Championship campaign against York,” said Horne.

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“If we beat Widnes then we are away to the winners of the North Wales-Bradford game and that would be another tough game, which we are wanting, ahead of the York game. But all we are focusing on this week is Widnes.”

Horne says he expects a similar challenge to that posed by Eagles.

“They are a quality outfit who have been in the Championship since 2019 (having having previously been in Super League for the previous seven years) and they’ve got a good pack of forwards.

“It’s another big test for us, as all the games against Championship clubs will be this season having come up from League One, but hopefully we can go there and come back with the goods.”