Doncaster Knights forwards coach Steve Boden hailed the “character” in his under-strength side as they delivered a confidence-boosting 32-26 Championship Cup Pool 2 win over visiting Jersey Reds.
The South Yorkshire club –vanquished 57-0 at Newcastle Falcons the previous week - were missing a raft of first-team players and also went behind early on at Castle Park.
But they demonstrated real spirit and no little confidence to hit back and produce a victory that leaves them in good stead ahead of Saturday’s league opener at Hartpury.
“Today’s win shows the character in the group,” said coach Boden.
“We were disappointed as a group with what we dished up in the defeat at Newcastle.
“Today’s game wasn’t about skill; it was about being tough and the boys are slowly learning what being tough means.
“Physicality is a given. It’s part of our culture and what we are about and I think we showed that in abundance today.”
Doncaster saw on-loan Leicester Tigers full-back Johnny McPhillips score on his debut as they hit back after Jersey struck first.
No 8 Rory Pitman impressed for Knights, with his powerful runs, helping to set up a try for Charlie Foley as they built up a 12-7 interval lead.
Sam Olver added a penalty but Jersey replied strongly to reclaim the advantage.
When replacement Antonio Harris was sin-binned, though, Doncaster made the most of the extra man for captain Matt Challinor to score and then scrum-half Tom James darted over.
Harris cut the deficit again when he returned to the action but Olver’s last penalty sealed the win.
The win keeps Knights second in their group.