DONCASTER Knights full-back Paul Jarvis believes all the pressure is on Championship leaders and promotion favourites London Irish as the rivals start preparation for the play-offs.
They face each other at Castle Park today in the final regular round of league action with all the top-four already confirmed.
I’d always back our boys. It’s not like they are a different level – and Jersey recently have shown us they can be beaten now.Doncaster Knights’ Paul Jarvis
Irish finished top while Yorkshire Carnegie, who host third-placed Ealing Trailfinders, have already claimed second, too, illustrated by the fact they have made 13 changes for that game at Headingley.
However, if Carnegie do defeat Ealing and last season’s beaten finalists Doncaster inflict only a second league defeat on the Exiles, the South Yorkshire club could still take third place.
That would mean they face their Broad Acres rivals in the semis rather than Irish.
Knights have made four changes to the side that crucially beat Jersey last week to secure their play-offs berth including Jarvis being rested ahead of the semi-finals, with Nottingham-bound Sean Scanlon coming in for his first start since the B&I Cup defeat to Munster A in January.
Nevertheless, he believes his side can still spring a surprise and beat opponents who have won 18 of their 19 league games since being relegated from the Premiership.
“We lost 19-0 at their place but it was so long ago now – the first game of the season,” said Jarvis.
“We see a lot of them as we play the same team the week after them so all our analysis is actually of teams playing against Irish.
“They are getting wins but (aside from Rotherham 82-3 last week) – they’re not blowing teams away.
“I’d always back our boys. It’s not like they are a different level – and Jersey recently have shown us they can be beaten now.”
Irish are not easing up, though, given they have included double World Cup-winning All Black prop Ben Franks and also recalled prolific full-back Tommy Bell –brother of Leeds Tykes 2005 Powergen Cup winner Chris – to their starting line-up.
Among the Carnegie changes, former England lock Dean Schofield is captain on his return while young No 8 Brandon Staples makes his Championship debut after impressing in the B&I Cup. Carnegie coach Bryan Redpath says “three or four play-off places” are still up for grabs.
West Leeds hope to reach Twickenham for a third successive season when they head to Solihull side Silhillians in their Intermediate Cup semi-final today.