Doncaster Knights go in to today’s pivotal South Yorkshire derby with Rotherham desperate for lightning to strike twice.
The Championship’s basement club looked down and out before they hosted Leeds three weeks ago but a rousing first half, and an obdurate performance in the second, ensured they took a priceless scalp of their Yorkshire rivals.
Last week’s defeat at fellow strugglers Moseley was a crushing blow, but just as they responded to a setback against Cornish Pirates by beating Leeds, so director of rugby Clive Griffiths hopes they can bounce back sufficiently against their local rivals again today.
“We’ve responded before and with it being a local derby again let’s hope that lightning strikes twice and we do the same to Rotherham,” said the Welshman.
“I still firmly believe that if we win our home games and pick up some points on the road then we can get out of the mess and just about save the season.
“It’s a tough old ask but I will keep trying until the bitter end. I inherited this team and tried to change things around as quickly as I can. The boys are happy with the game we are playing and the intent to play the way we saw at Moseley.”
With five games to go, Doncaster are two points adrift of Jersey and five further back from Moseley.
Griffiths welcomes back Tom Davies at loosehead prop in place of Brian McGovern, while Rhys Buckley also returns to the front row. Former Titan Joe Bedford starts in the half-backs alongside Jamie Lennard.
If it has been a chastening season for Doncaster, it has been a similary tough week for Rotherham.
The Titans are searching for a second head coach in four months after Alex Codling decided to leave at the end of the season for personal reasons.
Codling has vowed to give his usual 100 per cent commitment to the club from now until his departure.
“I remain as focused as I have always been,” he said. “And this game with Doncaster is going to be a cracking match. We played really well at Bristol and superbly against Newcastle for 50 minutes, but got nothing out of either game. Today we want to ensure we get the points we deserve.”
Codling has made just two changes to his starting XV, both of which are in the pack. Prop Marshall Gadd gets the nod in place of Jamie Kilbane, while Alex Rieder comes in at No 8 for Toby Freeman who picked up a dead-leg against Newcastle last week.