Doncaster Knights v Ealing Trailfinders: Knights need to match leaders' physicality
Doncaster Knights backs coach Joe Ford knows his side must fight fire with fire when Ealing Trailfinders arrive at Castle Park today.
The Championship leaders have lost just once so far this season, showing why they remain favourites to earn promotion to the Premiership next term. They have produced some massive scorelines including vanquishing London Scottish 101-7, winning 73-24 at Coventry and thrashing Nottingham 78-19.
However, Jersey Reds showed they can be fallible, pushing them close last weekend before losing out 35-29, and second-placed Cornish Pirates beat them 15-12 last month.
Doncaster, who have won their last four games and are up to fourth, will hope to go a step further than the Channel Islanders.
Ford admitted they will take positives from how Jersey managed to create them problems.
“The thing with Ealing is they are so big,” he said.
“That’s the first criteria really – just to match them physically.
“Jersey are very set-piece orientated so that’s why they did well and Pirates are the same so you have got to match them. Ealing get their front foot through the pack so our forwards have a big job.
“And then obviously, the weather – with this storm coming in – will make it even more important that our pack goes well.”
After last week’s narrow 20-15 win at Hartpury, Doncaster head coach Steve Boden has made five changes to his starting XV, including some alterations in his forwards, to try and get the right blend to negate Ealing’s main strength. George Edgson and Gaz Denman return to the starting XV with George Roberts and Andrew Foster moving to the bench.
Thom Smith, who debuted at Hartpury, goes to No8 to allow for John Kelly’s move to lock where he partners Ben Murphy, the recent signing from Cardiff Blues.
Jack Davies comes in at blindside flanker while Kai Owen, the loosehead prop who has joined on loan from Worcester Warriors, hopes to debut from the bench. Centre Fraser Strachan comes in for Joe Margetts (head).
On Doncaster’s form, Ford said: “We’ve been really good at times but we just can’t really keep it consistent for the 80 minutes.
“When you look at Hartpury last week, we went 12-0 down and then after that we came back and won looking like a good team.
“But if we go 12-0 down on Saturday I think we will struggle so we need an 80 minute performance for the first time.”