Dons don’t fear Featherstone

Doncaster Dons v Doncaster Select. Dons player Jack Ely gets taken down by Danny Hornsby. Picture: Holly Allen.
Doncaster Dons v Doncaster Select. Dons player Jack Ely gets taken down by Danny Hornsby. Picture: Holly Allen.

Tony Miller’s revamped squad face what looks like their toughest fixture on the opening day of the season when they visit Championship Grand Finalists Featherstone Rovers in their first Northern Rail Cup clash tomorrow night (7.30pm).

But the game holds no fears for the Dons coach who is looking ahead with confidence to the campaign to come.

Doncaster also face London Skolars, Dewsbury Rams and Rochdale Hornets in the curtain-raising cup competition before their league fixtures at home to South Wales Scorpions on March 13.

Miller said: “We’re under no illusions about the size of the task.

“It’s a massive game and the hardest one we’ve got in the competition.

“But you have to go into every game believing you can win and I don’t feel any different about this one.”

He added: “It’s a good game for the lads to see where we are at and I expect us to be competitive and give a good account of ourselves.”

The other leading club in the Dons group are Dewsbury who have to travel to the Keepmoat on February 20 for what could be a decisive fixture.

Miller would prefer the Rail Cup to be held as knockout competition or organised in three-team preliminary groups.

He also has a radical idea to play the final at Wembley as a curtain raiser to the Challenge Cup final. But there is no doubt about his main priority.

Miller said: “The league is all important to us and every game we play, in a way, is a build up to that.

“We already know there are areas that we need to improve but I’m optimistic about the season ahead providing we play to the best of our abilities.”

The Dons wound up their pre-season preparations with a 38-6 home victory against a Doncaster Select side made up of the top amateur players in the region.

The Select team was drawn from players representing Bentley Good Companions, Doncaster Toll Bar and Moorends-Thorne Marauders and they gave a good account of themselves, never making it easy for Miller’s men.

Dons raced into an 8-0 lead in the first 11 minutes with tries from Dean Colton and Shaun Leaf before Craig Fawcett and Chris Spurr touched down to make it 20-0 at half time.

But it was not all one sided with Moorends stand off Mark Roach and Bentley centre Paul Purnell showing up well for the Select team who grabbed a consolation try through Toll Bar full back Tom Holt in the 72nd minute with Companions’ winger Craig Whincop adding the points.

Second half tries from Mick Butterfield and Kyle Kesik (2) completed the Dons victory with Stu Sanderson kicking four goals and Kesik one in what is hoped will become an annual event.

Half back Scott Spaven missed the match with a shoulder strain but is expected to be fit to return tomorrow night.

But loose forward Carl Hughes is doubtful with a foot injury and long term injury victims Aaron Dobek and Grant Edwards are not expected to be ready for action until April.

Miller said: “We missed Scott for his kicking game last week but he should be back this weekend.

“He’s a pivotal player and we can ill afford to be without players like that.

“But the good thing is that there is a real camaraderie in the squad and if we have one or two players out as the season goes on we know we have others who will fill in and do a job.”