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Craig Lawton: Tipping a good season for the Dons
Craig Lawton: Tipping a good season for the Dons

DONS’ back-row forward Craig Lawton will be more familiar with members of the Doncaster Amateur Select side in Sunday’s final pre-season friendly at Wheatley Hills RUFC ground (2pm) than most.

Lawton coaches Toll Bar, where he learnt his trade as a junior, who will be supplying a number of players for the Select squad.

“I’ve probably coached most of the players who will be playing on Sunday and I’m probably going to get my head kicked in,” he joked.

“Seriously, I’m looking forward to it They gave us a decent game in the inaugural match between the two sides last year and it will be even harder on Sunday because they’ve got a better side.

“It will also suit them playing at Wheatley, were the crowd will be on top of the players, which should create a good atmosphere.

“I know the Toll Bar players, in particular, are all looking forward to the game and showing what they can do and I expect them to give it a real go for the first 20 minutes. Hopefully we’ll have a bit too much class on the day, but we certainly won’t be treating them lightly.”

Lawton made his return to the game in last weekend’s warm-up against Sheffield Eagles. Despite it being his first appearance in six months, he played a full game.

“I felt that I did okay and I got through it,” he told The Star. “But I need to be a bit fitter and a bit stronger and there’s still a lot of work to do in the gym and on the training paddock because when the season starts I want to be there or thereabouts.

“It was a competitive game and a big step up from our first game against Hunslet the previous week.

“They were the best team in the first 10 or 15 minutes but after that I thought that we were the better team until the last 10 minutes or so.

“They were able to fetch some fresh players on and it told as we started to tire a bit and they ran in three late tries to win the game 40-22.

“I don’t think the scoreline reflects the game and at 22-all with 10minutes to go it could have gone either way.

“We play them in the group stages of the Northern Rail Cup next month and last Sunday’s performance will give us confidence but we know that both teams will be significantly different on the day because we’ve got players to come in and they’ll have changes as well.”

The former Dons’ captain is predicting a good season for the Championship One club.

“We look to have a good squad and it’s good to have Mark Castle back,” he said.

“We’ve also signed Paul Cooke, who must be the club’s biggest signing for years. When he was on the top of his game he was unlucky not to play at international level.

“We’ve not had a player with his organisational skills to guide us around the pitch since Graham Holroyd and we’ve missed someone like that.”