Widnes Vikings v Doncaster RLFC: 'We're a different animal now' - Ben Johnston

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Star half-back Ben Johnston is set to return to the Doncaster RLFC side in Sunday’s testing Betfred Championship clash at Widnes Vikings.

The stand-off picked up a late head knock in the win at Barrow and was ruled out of Sunday’s 38-12 win over Dewsbury after failing the subsequent Head Injury Assessment.

The Dons lost 50-16 when they played the Vikings in their Challenge Cup third round tie back in February but Johnston argues the scoreline didn’t reflect the game.

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Johnston was one of several key players to sit the game out and pointed out: “We lost Misi (Taulapapa) early on and we also had (hooker) Joe Lovodua sin-binned in the second half.

Ben JohnstonBen Johnston
Ben Johnston

“We played well for first 20 minutes or so and it was still close until they scored just before half-time. But mistakes started to creep into our game in the second half and they were clinical.

“We had a lot of new players in the side and it takes time to gel. I think we are a different animal now and I think that they will know that and will not be underestimating us.

“They have been one of the form sides in the competition this season and they beat another of the top sides in Bradford last weekend so we know it’s going to be a tough game over there.

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“What we have to do is to have a high completion and not give ourselves too much defending to do which was the case in the big defeats against Wakefield and Featherstone.

“Although Rich (head coach Richard Horne) wants us to respect the ball, which we’ve done in our last two games, he doesn’t just want five drives and a kick and he’ll back the halves and back-line if we see something on.”

The Dons are expected to welcome back Watson Boas but will lack centre Reece Lyne and prop Keelan Foster due to hamstring injuries.

They will go into the game in joint fifth place (seventh on points difference) after winning three of their first six games.

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“I don’t think it was a secret as to how hard our start was going to be and no-one expected to us to beat Sheffield, Wakefield and Featherstone having come up from League One,” said Johnston. “But we’ve won back-to-back games and hopefully we can kick on in the coming weeks when we play more of the teams around us.”