Doncaster Knights v Bristol: Clark returns but Carpenter hangs up his boots

Mat Clark
Mat Clark
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Centre Mat Clark is set to make his first appearance of the season for Doncaster Knights in tomorrow’s Championship clash against unbeaten leaders Bristol at Castle Park (2.30).

Clark suffered a freak leg injury in training late last season, but proved his fitness when guesting for National One side Hull Ionians last weekend.

But the fifth-placed side have suffered a setback this week after 34-year-old back-rower Aaron Carpenter - Canada’s most capped player - announced his retirement from the game after being concussed in an international against Spain last weekend.

“When I heard he suffered a third HIA concussion this season then I put two and two together,” said director of rugby Clive Griffiths.

“We had a chat this week and I respect his decision taking into account his history of neck injuries and the fact that he’s got a young family.”

Prop Richard List has recovered from the neck injury which ruled him out of the 57-14 defeat at Ealing last weekend and is expected to return to the starting line-up as is former Rotherham centre Will Owen (knee) and wing Tyson Lewis (rested).

Prop Colin Quigley, an unused replacement at Ealing where he was just making up the numbers, will also be available this weekend despite having a fractured thumb.

With second-rower Matt Challinor having showed no adverse reaction in training this week to the high tackle which broke his nose at Ealing, he will line-up against Bristol though Dougie Flockhart (arm) has joined the likes of Andy Bulumakau and Paul Jarvis on the sidelines.

With Tom Hicks still ruled out, Griffiths had hoped to bring in a second-rower on loan from Newcastle but the Falcons have chosen to rest him this weekend.

Griffiths, who will also give late fitness tests to Lloyd Hayes and Alex Shaw today, is demanding a much-improved showing tomorrow.

“Watching the Ealing game at times was like going to the dentist and having root canal treatment without an injection. It was that painful,” he told The Star.

“We are playing the best team in the league who have a huge pool of players to choose from and who are a threat from No 1 to No 22.

“So we can’t afford to make the sort of self-inflicted mistakes that cost us four tries at Ealing and we have to compete for the full 80 minutes.”

Dual-registered Newcastle back Cameron Cowell is expected to make his home debut after impressing at Ealing wearing the No 15 shirt.

“He made a few mistakes but the good things he did outweighed the bad,” said the Welshman.