DONCASTER Knights could hardly have had a tougher fixture to kick-off 2013 than to entertain unbeaten Championship leaders Newcastle Falcons at Castle Park today (2.30).
“We know that it is going to be tough but we’ve highlighted what we consider to be their main threats and we’ve worked on trying to counter them and we’ve also highlighted some things where we could possibly hurt them,” said Knights’ boss Clive Griffiths.
“I was pleased how the team played against Bristol the Sunday before Christmas. The lads showed tremendous team spirit and we should have come away with something.
“In fact had we landed a late drop goal we’d have come away with a losing bonus point.
“Today is all about seeing if the boys can raise the bar a bit further against a side which is a Premiership team in all but name.
“We are still work in process and we’ve got 10 days off after today so we’ll take stock and may be add one or two players.”
Knights, who are expecting their biggest crowd of the season, will be without back-rower Adam Kettle. He faces several weeks on the sidelines after suffering a shoulder injury in the defeat at the Memorial Stadium.
Rory Lawson will skipper Falcons for.
The Falcons have made four changes to the side that defeated London Scottish on home turf last week, as they kept their 100 per cent record intact with another win in front of the TV cameras.
Promising youngster Zach Kibirige, who recently committed his future to the club by signing a long term deal, gets the nod on the wing while Alex Crockett and Tane Tu’ipulotu form the centre partnership.
Alex Tait and Jimmy Gopperth are both side-lined through injury, while Suka Hufanga misses the trip with illness.
Jonny Golding’s inclusion at loose-head prop is the only change in the pack ahead of the New Year’s Day showdown.
Club captain Will Welch makes a welcome return to the bench after recovering from a back injury that has kept him out of action for the last month.
“They’re a good side and they can play some good rugby, and at times throughout the season they have caused side’s a problem,” said director of rugby Dean Richards.
“They just haven’t done it consistently, but I’m expecting a tough test when we go down to their place.
“Doncaster is a nice place to go and play rugby – it’s a good pitch, with good changing facilities and we are very much looking forward to the challenge,” added Richards.