Doncaster Knights director of rugby Clive Griffiths believes his side need six wins to ensure their Championship survival.
Last season’s National One champions burst out of the gate this term, winning half of that target in their opening four games.
Victories over anticipated strugglers Plymouth Albion and Jersey were backed up by an impressive win over local rivals Yorkshire Carnegie, which left Doncaster looking up rather than down.
But a defeat to Cornish Pirates at the start of October checked their momentum as they headed into the first block of British and Irish Cup fixtures.
As they approach the second tranche of Cup games, Griffiths fears they have been sucked into the winter’s relegation battle. Defeat against Bristol two weeks ago was understandable, given the gulf in resources between the two clubs.
But the manner of the loss to lowly Moseley last week, when they allowed their opponents to suck the life out of their attacking play, left Griffiths seething.
He blasted his players and told them to wake up to the fact that they were sliding towards the relegation zone. A week on, and even with time to reflect and a 12-point cushion on Plymouth in the only relegation position, his fears remain the same.
“It’s going to be six wins to stay in this division and that’s dependent on all the teams below you continuing to lose,” said Griffiths, whose side welcome top-four candidates London Scottish to Castle Park today. “Moseley have picked up, Bedford are winning games now and Carnegie will get their act together sooner or later.
“So we need to turn these winning positions into victories, or in the very least losing bonus points, because that’s what’s galling, we’re not taking anything from these games.
“It’s all right saying we need to be adaptable in games, we need to prove it against the teams that come to stifle us like Moseley did last week.
“We’ve learnt some very harsh lessons this week and right now we’re in the relegation dogfight.”