Doncaster Knights will be boosted by the return of flanker Jack Ram in tomorrow’s Championship play-off semi-final second leg against London Irish at the Madejski Stadium.
One of three Doncaster players in the Championship’s 2017 dream team, Ram missed Sunday’s 35-3 first-leg defeat at Castle Park.
But dual-registered second-rower Glen Young will miss the game after suffering concussion and having to be substituted in the second half at the weekend.
Director of rugby Clive Griffiths, who could well start with fit-again centre Mat Clark, a second-half replacement in the first-leg, admits it has been a difficult week.
“I had hoped that we’d be going down there still in contention but we don’t just have a mountain to climb, we have two mountains,” he told The Star.
“We lost the first leg of last year’s final and then beat Bristol at Ashton Gate so I’m sure they won’t be treating us lightly – even though we haven’t been at our best in any of the three games we’ve played against them this season
“They are a very good side, better than Bristol were last season, and are effectively a Premiership side in all but name, but I don’t think they are 32 points better than us when we are on our game at Castle Park.
“We know they put pressure on teams with the way they defend and they get into your face. But many of our mistakes - both in attack and defence - were self-inflicted. We also didn’t do a lot of the things we’d worked on in training which we thought would help our cause, and I’ll be looking for us to stick to the game-plan better tomorrow.
“We’ve left ourselves with a massive task but I’m not giving in. Even if we can’t win the tie we can win the return leg.”
“But whatever the result we need to restore our pride and try and go out on a high because that carries you forward into pre-season.”