THE chance to atone for a disappointing defeat will be uppermost in the minds of Doncaster Knights’ squad today as they host Nottingham at Castle Park.
A shock 27-14 loss at unfancied Ealing Trailfinders a week ago has reminded everyone at the South Yorkshire club – surprise Championship finalists last season – that nothing comes easily in this division.
It scuppered hopes of a fourth successive win and was their first loss since the opening day against relegated Premiership side and current leaders London Irish.
Tenth-placed Nottingham have won just two of their first five outings so far, but have been competitive, edging tight fixtures in Jersey and against London Scottish, while losing by just two points at unbeaten Yorkshire Carnegie.
They were the latest side to fall to Irish last week, but Doncaster director of rugby Clive Griffiths realises his side will be hurt again if they are as complacent as at Ealing.
“From the start to the very end we just weren’t at the races,” he said.
“Credit to Ealing for capitalising like they did, but 20 turnovers in possession, 16 missed tackles, 13 penalties against us … you don’t have to be the best coach in the world to realise we’d struggle.
“You can’t build a house if the foundations are poor and they were very poor last week.
“It’s disappointing as we’d started to look good in the previous three games
“But what’s good about this sport is once one match finishes another comes quickly after and, so, we’ve a really good challenge with Nottingham coming here.
“They haven’t had couple of results that should have gone their way, but they’ve played really well in the games I’ve seen.”
Griffiths admitted there had been “one or two home truths” in their review this week and he expects a response this afternoon.
“The thing about mistakes is don’t make the same one,” said the veteran Welshman, who has made changes for today’s fixture.
“Some of them are recurring unfortunately, others were new.
“We’ve to put our house in order and, against Nottingham, we want to get back to the Knights way of playing. Everyone was down at the start of the week when they knew what was coming in that review.
“But there were some positives and the two tries we scored were top-drawer.
“We have to make sure we do that on a more consistent basis and, at the other end, make our tackles.”
The Knights make four changes, with Joe Maksymiw making his seasonal debut for the club at second row replacing the injured Dave Nolan. The 20-year-old lock represented the Knights several times last season on dual-registration from Leicester Tigers and will partner Glen Young.
Harry Allen returns at hooker, while Declan Cusack and Andy Bulumakau are the only other two changes in the backs; replacing Simon Humberstone and Dougie Flockhart at wing and fly half respectively.