Doncaster Knights looking to carry momentum into Championship Cup action

Will Owen will make his long-awaited return for the Knights
Will Owen will make his long-awaited return for the Knights

Doncaster Knights will be looking to get their inaugural Championship Cup campaign off to a winning start when they entertain Coventry at Castle Park in the first of six successive group fixtures.

Last season’s National One champions have proved hard to beat on home soil on their return to the second tier of English rugby but have yet to win on the road.

But Doncaster’s record of just one win at Castle Park, which they had hoped to make a fortress this season, means that they won’t lack confidence.

“For some reason our home form has been very poor so far this season and we need to put that right and we’ll be looking for a performance from the boys,” said head coach Glen Kenworthy.

“But we are going into the game on the back of a couple of good performances and we are hoping to build on the momentum from the London Scottish win during the Cup campaign.

 “As well as doing enough to get through to the knock-out stages we want to work on aspects of our game that we need to tidy up and look to introduce a few new players and be ready to go again when the league campaign kicks-off again at the end of the year in what will be a massive game against Yorkshire Carnegie.

“But we know that we face a tough task tomorrow. Coventry have got a big squad and a lot of good players and we all know what the likes of Andy Bulumakau, Jack Ram and Latu Makaafi, all former Doncaster players, can do if they play.”

Given the fact that Knights ended a run of five successive league defeats last time out, Knights are not expected to make many unenforced changes though they will be lacking four of the players on duty at the Athletic Ground due to international call ups.

Centre Will Owen, who has proved his fitness following knee surgery last season with two outings for Doncaster Phoenix is expected to be named in the squad today.

With prop Richard List crying off Toby Williams is likely to start and Charlie Foley will come in at fly-half.

Hopes that second-rower Tom Hicks would be fit to return after several weeks on the sidelines following a head injury assessment (HIA) have failed to materialise. Better news for the club is that young back-rower Sam Jones has been give the all-clear to resume training after suffering a head injury at the start of the season.

The game will be the first to be played at Castle Park under new rules on tackles above the mid-chest area which are being trialled by the RFU who hope they will reduce the number of head injuries within the game.

“We’ve done a bit of work in training on the new rules and if it works it works,” said Kenworthy. "We’ll have to see what happens on the day. We certainly don’t want to see players picking up red cards which could be very costly going forward.”