Doncaster Knights can forget promotion talk with performances like that, blasts Steve Boden
Steve Boden believes his Doncaster Knights players let themselves down on Saturday as a season of great expectations began with a huge setback.
Knights performed above expectations in finishing third in the truncated RFU Championship last season, giving big-spending Ealing and shamed former European champions Saracens a bit of a fright along the way.
That achievement, allied with no big name dropping down from the Premiership and the top flight opening up to 14 teams next season, had fuelled talk of Doncaster giving promotion a real go this season.
It was even backed by the owners talking about how they would spruce up Castle Park to meet the promotion criteria.
While Boden has distanced himself and his team from such talk, there is no question that a repeat of the 39-22 defeat they suffered at Coventry on Saturday is unacceptable.
“It was a long way off what we’ve come to expect in the last 18 months,” he said. “By no means was it a performance we could be proud of.
“Our control was poor, our game-management was poor, our urgency was poor. There are things we can control and we were nowhere near where I expect us to be.”
On the rising expectations, Boden said: "Saying you’re going to do and doing it are two different things. I believe in actions not words.
“I hope none of the players have been buying into that.
“It’s not something we have spoken about as a management team. We never talk about where we want to finish.
“We have got to be realistic, we don’t have a top-four budget but doesn’t mean we don’t talk about promotion. This is a young group and there’s a desperation to kick on in their careers but it didn’t show on Saturday. We want to come off the field after every game knowing we’ve had a dig, have we earned respect?
“Can we be proud of our performance? If we do that then more often than not we’ll win.
“I’d be saying all this even if we’d won on Saturday.”