Doncaster RLFC: ‘Defence is priority’ in Leeds Rhinos clash

Gary Thornton
Gary Thornton

Gary Thornton says defensive improvement will be the priority as the Dons continue their pre-season preparations against Super League opposition.

The Dons beat Championship neighbours Sheffield Eagles in their first friendly and welcome Leeds Rhinos to the Keepmoat this weekend.

After encouraging signs against the Eagles, head coach Thornton wants to see more when the 2015 treble winners come to town on Sunday.

“Sheffield were very good in the first half,” Thornton said. “But we were good with our defence and attack in the second half.

“But we still have a lot of work to do with our defence with Super League opposition coming up in the next few weeks. It’s going to be a challenge.”

The Dons ran out 22-18 winners to lift the South Yorkshire Cup, opening up a commanding lead before being pegged back late in the second half.

Overall Thornton was pleased with the performance.

He said: “With it being such a long pre-season we were a bit rusty, but so were the Eagles.

“It was a typical pre-season game with mistakes by both teams, and there were things we can improve on in the coming the months.

“A win against a Championship side shows just where we are at the moment.”

Richie Barnett grabbed a try on his debut outing for the Dons and Thornton said the winger showed some nerves before lining up against his former club Sheffield.

He said: “Obviously as a winger, that’s what he’ll be wanting to do [score tries].

“Having played against his previous club, he was very nervous. But he showed a good attitude towards the game.”

The Dons host Leeds in a 3pm kick off on Sunday with a final friendly against Hull FC to follow a week later.