Challenge Cup draw gives Doncaster chance to measure themselves against Leeds

Doncaster Dons' head coach Gary Thornton (Picture: Andrew Roe).Doncaster Dons' head coach Gary Thornton (Picture: Andrew Roe).
Doncaster Dons' head coach Gary Thornton (Picture: Andrew Roe).
A TRIP to Leeds Rhinos is a 'plum draw' for Doncaster, says their coach Gary Thornton.

The Kingstone Press League One club will visit Headingley in the fifth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.

Thornton, former coach of Batley Bulldogs and a Rhinos fan, said: “We are delighted. It is fantastic, a great draw for the whole club. The players are really excited, as are we coaches.”

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Doncaster have won their opening two matches in League One and beat a mainly Under-19 Leeds side 35-34 in a pre-season game at the end of January.

Their squad includes former Rhinos forward Jamie Thackray and chief executive Carl Hall is also an ex-Leeds player.

“There’s a huge gulf between Super League and League One, but we are hoping to do well in our division this year so it’ll be a great measure,” Thornton added.

“For individuals to pit their own skill levels against Super League players is a fantastic opportunity and we will relish it.”

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Salford coach Ian Watson says his team could have not have been handed a tougher draw after being paired with newcomers Toronto Wolfpack.

The Canadian team, who have ambitions to reach Super League within five years, will get a chance to test themselves against top-flight opposition after being handed a trip to the AJ Bell Stadium to take on Watson’s Red Devils in the fifth round on the weekend of April 22-23.

Watson said. “I don’t think we could have had a tougher draw even with teams like Leeds and Huddersfield coming in.

“We had a training session against each other in pre-season, which was a real good hit-out, so we’ll be well aware of little bits of how they like to play.”

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Wolfpack began their Cup campaign with a narrow win over Halifax amateurs Siddal in the third round before knocking out Championship club London Broncos in Ealing last Friday.

Toronto director of rugby Brian Noble, a former coach of Salford who won the Challenge Cup with Bradford, said: “It’s a fabulous tie; we’ll look forward to that. We’re clearly the underdogs, but we want to put a marker down.”

Fifth round ties are scheduled to be played on the weekend beginning Friday, April 21.

Fifth round draw: Leigh Centurions v Hull KR, Featherstone Rovers v Oldham, Leeds Rhinos v Doncaster, Salford Red Devils v Toronto Wolfpack, Whitehaven/Oxford v Halifax, Dewsbury Rams v Batley Bulldogs, Huddersfield Giants v Swinton Lions, York City Knights v Barrow Raiders.