VICTORY over London Welsh at Castle Park today (2.30pm) would go a long way towards helping Doncaster Knights reclaim a top-four spot in the Championship.
The Exiles go into the game in fourth spot, two places above Brett Davey’s men and Knights’ Swansea-born back-rower Chris Planchant said: “It’s not surprising to see where they are in the table.
“They are always a tough side to beat and they’ve got a good coach in Lynn Jones. They also recruited well during the summer. They are probably going to be one of the most physical sides that we’ve played this season and it’s going to be tough up front and that’s why Brett has gone for the pack that he has.”
Knights, who were starting to make Castle Park a bit of a fortress at the time, went down without putting up any real fight in an error-strewn display against Nottingham in their last home game a fortnight ago and to a man they are keen to try to put the record straight this afternoon.
“We don’t want to play like that at home again,” said Planchant. “It was disappointing for the Doncaster fans and we need to put that right.
“The feeling that I’ve got from training this week is that the boys are up for it and I don’t think that we are going to have a repeat of the Nottingham game. But, as I say, it’s going to be a tough game; there’s no doubt about that.”
One of the key men in the Welsh pack this season has been former Doncaster No 8 Ed Jackson.
“He’s scored a few tries for them,” said Planchant, who says the South Yorkshire side will also have to try and ‘keep the lid’ on fly-half Gordon Ross. “I think first of all it is going to be a case of one pack trying to get on top of the other pack - we are both quite physical sides - and I think it’s going to be a war of attrition in first the 20 minutes or so.
“But with both sides having a good back-three there is no doubt that the aim will be get the ball out to them so that they can play in the open spaces.”
Although keen to see Knights back up their win at bottom club Esher last week, Planchant says that as long as Knights are still in contention at the turn of the year he’ll be happy.
“Because of the top-eight play-off system I think it is the team who show a bit of form after Christmas who you’ve got to watch,” he said. “It is all well and good being top of the league at this time of the year but you can finish eighth and still go up.”