Current league form would suggest that Doncaster Knights stand little chance of victory at Worcester Warriors today.
Two teams separated by two divisions last season have lived up to form in the second tier, with the Knights having failed to win in eight in the league and Worcester unbeaten in their pursuit of promotion since an opening-day defeat to leaders Bristol.
But the Warriors will be foolish to treat the Knights lightly, given the South Yorkshire team’s form in the British and Irish Cup.
Winners already at Cornish Pirates and Bedford, they applied the coup de grace at Castle Park last week when they stormed into the semi-finals at the expense of a star-studded Munster A squad.
Anything achieved at Sixways today would still represent a point in the right direction, however, for a Doncaster team desperate to replicate their cup form and move up the Championship table.
“We know it’s going to be tough down there but Jersey battled hard and picked up a losing bonus point and we’ve got to believe that we can also come away with something,” said Knights director of rugby Clive Griffiths.
“We dug deep against them when we played them at home after they got a flying start and we’ll be going down there without any inhibitions and no pressure on us.
“I wouldn’t say that they are better than Bristol out of respect to them, but what I would say is that they are probably the form team in the league right now.
“They have a massive budget and have strong all-round side with no real weaknesses.
“We’ll just hope to find a chink in their armour.
“They’ve got to play badly sometime and they’ve got to lose sometime – let’s hope it’s this week.”
In an attempt to exploit those weaknesses, Griffiths has made three changes from the side that despatched Munster A.
Teenage scrum-half Jack Maplesden makes his first Championship start since the Knights’ opening-day victory over Plymouth Albion.
At the other end of the age spectrum, Colin Quigley replaces Ross Davies at tighthead prop while club captain Matt Challinor comes in at blindside flanker in place of Latu Makaafi.
Recent signing Ume Fosita is set to make his Knights debut off the bench, while 20-year-old scrum-half Ed Hoadley – who has arrived on loan from National One side Rosslyn Park having spent time at London Irish and London Welsh – is also among the replacements.