A season that Clive Griffiths describes as a “slog” comes down to a pivotal game at Rosslyn Park for Doncaster Knights.
Win, and this demanding campaign will be one more victory from a successful conclusion.
Lose, and the promotion race will go down to the wire, and second-placed Rosslyn Park will have not only narrowed the gap but will have gained a psychological advantage.
“We’ve got to make sure today that whatever happens they have to go hell for leather in the final three games to overtake us,” said the Knights’ director of rugby, whose side have a seven-point lead with 20 points to play for.
“It would be fantastic to go up at the first attempt but we are taking nothing for granted.”
Doncaster have behaved like favourites at Castle Park this season, winning all 14 of their league games to date. But on the road, they have lost on four occasions.
Griffiths attributes the opposition eyeing a major scalp as a decisive factor, but a large injury list has also played a part.
Doncaster’s resources may be the envy of many in the third tier but they have been stretched to near breaking point at times this season.
“It seems to have been one injury after another and every Saturday night I’ve been on the phone to directors of rugby around the country, asking if they’ve got a hooker available or a centre, etcetera,” he said.
“We have excellent relationships with clubs like Leeds Carnegie, Leicester Tigers and Worcester Warriors, who have been very good to us.
“Loan or dual-registered players have been vital but they often don’t arrive at the club until Friday so they’ve got one training session under their belt at most and have not had enough time to learn what you want implemented on the field. So it’s been a slog.”
Encouragingly, the Doncaster fans have not given up on their team, with, 1,400 in attendance last week when they defeated Blaydon.
“I’m grateful we’ve been able to play a brand of rugby we wanted and the fans have been great,” added Griffiths. “They’ve really bought into what we’re trying to do and seen that we play with intent. We want to repay their faith, and that of the investors, by winning promotion.”