Doncaster Knights: Matt Chall-enges top of the table Knights

Matt Challinor
Matt Challinor

Doncaster Knights will be defending their one hundred per cent home record this weekend when entertaining their first visitors of 2014 on Saturday.

Having beaten Cinderford 35-5 in September, Matt Challinor’s men are expected to complete the double over the Gloucestershire outfit and move a step nearer clinching the National One title in the process.

Knights are aiming to go the whole season unbeaten at Castle Park, according to their skipper.

But Challinor has warned his teammates that they cannot afford to take their eye off the ball, starting this weekend against lowly Cinderford.

“They are down there and like most of the sides to have come to Castle Park this season they’ll basically have nothing to lose,” he said.

“They’ll be able to relax and throw the ball about and enjoy playing here as did Hull Ionians in our last home game.

“One or two sides have gone close and we had to show real character to come from 20-5 down after 20 minutes or so to beat Coventry, who are a good team, last month.

“We set ourselves a target of going through the season unbeaten, though having lost several away games already we can’t achieve that feat now.

“But we are still unbeaten at home and the aim is to remain that way until the end of the season.

“If we do that it will go a long way towards realising our goal of getting back to the Championship.

“We ended 2013 top of the league despite having to contend with an horrendous injury situation and if we are there or thereabouts when we start getting players back during the next few weeks, then hopefully we can really kick on.

“But we know that we have to be on our game every week – the likes of Henley and Blaydon have shown us that - because being the only full-time club every side is looking to beat us.

“For me, the most disappointing defeat was the one at Wharfedale,” he added.

“We’d talked all week about the fact it would be a tough place to go and we didn’t really turn up on the day to be honest.

“We’ve got some tough away games coming up against the likes of Fylde, Esher, Rossyln Park and Coventry, and we’ve got to have learned our lesson.”

The club attracted its biggest gate of the season (1,425) against Ionians and officials are hoping most, if not all, will return after Knights’ eye-pleasing performance.

“We’ve played some very good rugby, especially at home this year,” said Challinor.

“Paul Cooke’s been brought in to improve our core skills and everyone is more comfortable with the ball and that’s no coincidence because we spend up to two hours a week working with him and he tests us with new ideas.”