Dons boss on Oldham win, start to the season and this weekend's clash with leaders North Wales Crusaders

Doncaster RLFC’s Betfred League One promotion bandwagon is starting to pick up pace, according to head coach Richard Horne.

By Steve Hossack
Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 10:39 am

The Dons secured their best win of the season so far on Sunday by defeating Oldham 16-12 at the Eco-Power Stadium.

Horne said: “It was a game that we needed. We hadn’t had an arm-wrestle game this year because we didn’t give ourselves a chance against Keighley and Swinton. We made too many errors and were never in those games.

“This was the first time that we’ve gone set-to-set with one of the teams who are going to be challenging in the top half of the table and come through the other end.

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Doncaster's Kobi Poching in action against Oldham. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX.com

“We completed our sets in the first half really well, as they did, and we also defended well. We had to scramble at times but that’s rugby league.

“Their two tries came from off-loads – they weren’t from set-plays or anything like that – and every team poses a threat from things like that.”

Reflecting on the campaign so far, Horne said: “We’ve got a brand new team from last season – we’ve brought in eight or nine players – and we’ve still got players who have yet to play this season due to injuries picked up last season.

“We expect to have them available again in a few weeks’ time so we are only going to get stronger as the players, including the loan players from Featherstone, learn more about each other.

“We’ve got a good relationship with Featherstone and they’ve got a big squad. We want to keep Ben (Mathiou) and Loui (McConnell) as long as we can. We are in regular contact with Featherstone and keep them updated on what we are doing with their players and they are happy with the arrangement as are the players.”

Sunday’s game saw Wakefield youngster Kobe Poching make his first team debut.

“Kobe’s a young lad and he’s learning the game and developing and he’ll do that during the period that Wakefield have loaned him to us while Ben Johnston is out suspended,” said Horne, who admitted the Dons had missed their key playmaker.

“I thought that we missed the running threat, that Benny brings us, in the first half and I reckon that when Loui went through when we were 6-0 down that he would have been on his shoulder and that would have been a try.”

Horne revealed that scrum-half Connor Robinson, whose try and four goals won him the man-of-the-match award, had been doubtful ahead of the game.

“He had been ill all week and we didn’t want him to try and do too much,” he said. “We just wanted him to kick for position and I thought he did that really well.”

Horne is looking to build on last weekend’s game when the Dons entertain unbeaten leaders North Wales Crusaders on Sunday.

“I’m expecting a similar game,” he said. “They are a big, strong powerful outfit and once again it will be all about us trying to play in the right areas, controlling the ball and getting our defensive line right.

“They’ve got some dangerous players in their squad and we know we are going to have to play well, but the Oldham game will give us confidence going into the game.”