'It's a great start to the season' - reaction to Doncaster's win over York Knights

Doncaster RLFC hit the ground running when posting an impressive 36-20 win over visiting York Knights in their opening Betfred Championship game at the Eco-Power Stadium.
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Worries that the Dons might struggle to compete in the division after eight years in League One following successive cup defeats were brushed aside as they led throughout against a York side fancied to make the play-offs again this season.

“It was a great start to the season,” said head coach Richard Horne. “We were good value for our early 12-0 lead before errors started to creep in and we started giving penalties away which helped to let them get back into the game.

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“They got it back to 12-10 and they had the momentum going in at the break and we spoke about the fact that we had to start the second half like we had done the first and complete our sets and we did that.

Dons' Tom Halliday scores for the Dons. Picture: Andrew Roe/AHPIX LTDDons' Tom Halliday scores for the Dons. Picture: Andrew Roe/AHPIX LTD
Dons' Tom Halliday scores for the Dons. Picture: Andrew Roe/AHPIX LTD

“We’d not done that in the last 15 minutes of the first half and that is what put us under pressure. There is only so much defensive work you can do to stop quality teams breaking you down.

“As I said, we got off to the start we were looking for with Pauli Pauli, who I thought we used at the right time during the match, crashing over after just a couple of minutes for the first of his two tries.

“He is such a big man and he is very hard to handle and not many players will stop him in a one-on-one near the line. He was fantastic and he did what we asked him to do, such as getting us some ruck tempo and causing them problems near their line.

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“He probably wanted a big game playing against one of his former clubs but he didn’t mention it to me and we didn’t make a big deal of it in the build-up.”

Another close season signing to catch the eye was full-back Craig Hall who justified his selection ahead of Josh Guzdak who had played there in previous games.

“Craig’s being around the sport for a long time and he knows the game,” said Horne. “He’s a smart player and knows when to come into the game.”

Despite York hitting back with two quickly-taken tries after the Dons had opened up a 30-10 lead, Horne said: “I was never worried that they were going to win the game not least because of the time factor.

“We’ve got work to do going forward, such as making sure we defend back-to-back errors better, but there are always things you can do better. As I say, it was a good start.”