DONCASTER KNIGHTS’ Paul Jarvis says his side’s controversial defeat to rivals Yorkshire Carnegie four months ago has “lingered over” their entire campaign.
The South Yorkshire club was edged out 15-9 at Headingley in September in only their third game of the season.
Then, Doncaster were furious after Joe Sproston had a try denied deep into stoppage-time, officials claiming the replacement prop never reached the whitewash when stretching out for the line although DVD footage later showed he clearly did.
The sides meet again at Castle Park this evening with sixth-placed Knights having strung together three successive wins but still searching for the sort of consistency that saw them reach the play-offs in each of the last two campaigns.
Mentioning that previous encounter, full-back Jarvis admitted: “There’s a bit of bad feeling going on with that.
“We felt quite hard done by losing at their place. It was one of those games that has lingered on our season a little bit.
“We do keep referring to it and it is almost like we owe them one. There will be a little bit of bite in it come Friday.”
While Doncaster beat Rotherham 36-19 in another derby on Saturday, Carnegie were scraping to a scruffy 12-10 home win over Nottingham that saw them rise to fourth, three points ahead of Clive Griffiths’s side.
They, too, have yet to fully hit their straps but Jarvis added: “I think they’ve got a good game in them.
“They have had a pretty similar season to us so far.
“We’ve shown glimpses of what we can be and other times we have let ourselves down a little bit.
“They’re probably feeling the same. It’s one of those local derby things – like last week – where form goes out of the window.
“It will be be a big deal for a lot of local people and being back at our place will be nice.”
It will be particularly intriguing for Jarvis, however, as he continues his return to form and fitness after spending much of this campaign sidelined.
The gifted No 15 suffered a serious hamstring injury in the opening game of the season and only returned in the 42-27 British & Irish Cup victory at Cardiff Blues Select a fortnight ago.
The continued rehabilitation of the injury, allied with a busy fixture list over the festive period, means he will have to sit this one out; Charlie Foley coming in to the full-back position.
“It’s been the longest time I’ve been out in my tenure here,” said Jarvis, who joined from Hartpury College four years ago and has gone on to twice be named in the Championship ‘Dream Team’.
“It’s been tough at times. It’s been quite nice to get a different perspective on things and see things from a different view but it was a little bit too long for my liking – 16 weeks of biting my fingernails – so it was really nice to get 80 minutes under the belt at Rotherham.
“I managed to get 45 minutes the week before and chug along so it was good for my peace of mind to get 80 under the belt and still be able to do a little bit.”
The 28-year-old showed flashes of his attacking quality as Doncaster were pushed hard by the competition’s winless bottom side for an hour before cutting lose.
“Coming into that game we said when it comes to these derbies it could be top versus bottom and it wouldn’t mean anything,” he said.
“We knew they’d put up a good fight for a fair amount of time so it was a matter of wearing them down and we managed that.
“We said afterwards that it was the kind of game we can kick on from and help turn our season around to get the other side of these close results.
“The stars aligned for us playing Rotherham at this time of year again and it was a nice little Christmas present getting a local derby and win like that.
“For me, it’s good to hopefully be going from strength to strength and now we move on to Carnegie.”
Doncaster have signed promising Namibia winger Lesley Klim after recommendations from former Leeds Tykes coach Phil Davies
The 22-year-old has joined from Welwitschias, a development side for the Namibian national side, who compete in the South African domestic competition the Currie Cup.
Griffiths makes four other changes; among them, Ben Hunter drops out of the squad with David Nelson replacing him at hooker and Curtis Langdon named as a replacement.
For Carnegie, Alex Davies, a replacement against Nottingham, will start at fly-half tonight in place of hamstring victim Pete Lucock.
Stevie McColl replaces wing Darren Atkins, Ben West starts in place of Ollie Stedman – who is among the replacements – and Richard Beck moves to No 8. Max Green returns on the bench.