Doncaster RLFC relishing tune-up game against Super League side's reserve team

Doncaster RLFC complete their pre-season warm-up fixtures when they welcome Wakefield Trinity Reserves to the Keepmoat Stadium on Friday night (7.30pm).

Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 9:00 am
Dons v Sheffield.
Dons v Sheffield.

The game could see several of the biggest names in the Super League turn out for Trinity as they look to regain match fitness following long lay-offs in 2019.

"If they do play, then our boys will relish playing against them and it will be a great experience for them,” said Dons' head coach Richard Horne.

“A lot of Championship sides had got themselves fixed up with pre-season games so when Wakefield approached us saying they were looking for a hit-out for their Reserves side (ahead of their Reserve League campaign) we were happy to play them."

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The Dons will go into the game having suffered a 36-18 defeat against derby rivals Sheffield Eagles in a game which was much closer than the scoreline suggests.

“As I said after the game we didn’t control their ruck speed and that is something we’ve worked on in training and an area of the game we hope to do better at against Wakefield.

“I felt that the rucks were a little bit too quick and we didn’t have that control we needed to slow them down without conceding a penalty. We were bouncing off a few contacts and they were getting on the front foot on the back of that. We need to be better in collision.”

Although generally pleased with the performance against Eagles for more than an hour, Horne admitted to being disappointed with the fact that their opponents scored four late tries.

“Defence is a lot about attitude and at times our attitude was great but we let ourselves down in the last ten minutes or so, albeit we had people playing out of position,” he said.

“We got our numbers wrong and if you do that against a side like Sheffield, who have people like Anthony Thackeray, they’ll punish you.”

With none of the players who missed the Sheffield game likely to be available tomorrow night, Horne will go with the same squad against the West Yorkshire side.

Whereas the likes of Matty Beharrell and Kieron Cross could be back within the next month Australian Jordie Hedges faces a much longer wait following his knee reconstruction operation at the end of last season.

“It’s frustrating and I would love to have been involved in the pre-season games,” he said.

“But I’m making good progress and I hope to be back around mid-season to help our promotion bid.”

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s game, Horne said: “It would be great if we beat them but there are no points at stake.

“It’s all about building towards the start of the season. We adopted a basic game plan against Sheffield and I’m just giving the players key things to focus on and as long as we do them well I’ll be happy.

“I’ll also be looking for better game management than at the weekend as well as improving our last-tackle plays which were a bit frantic at times. That’s a big focus for us going forward.”