DONCASTER KNIGHTS: A huge challenge

BACK IN THE FOLD: Michael Keating impressed on his return from injury. Picture: Andrew Roe.
BACK IN THE FOLD: Michael Keating impressed on his return from injury. Picture: Andrew Roe.

CLIVE Griffiths admitted he was shocked by the size of the task ahead when he took charge of the Knights.

But the director of rugby is delighted with the progress made by the squad since his arrival.

Griffiths watched from the stands as the Knights slumped to a 52-7 defeat at Nottingham in November.

He used Saturday’s British and Irish Cup clash with the same opposition as a marker of improvement for his side.

And despite a 16-14 defeat which saw the Knights eliminated from the competition, Griffiths was pleased with the performance.

He said: “I watched that game at Meadow Lane and thought ‘what have we got here.’

“The lads have shown plenty of fight since then but in that game they didn’t really have any.

“Saturday was all about seeing how far we have come and I’m really pleased with what I saw.

“Compared with seven weeks ago when we capitulated, that was a great improvement and but for the width of the post we would have won.

“I didn’t think we really performed in the first half but they listened at the break and I was really happen with that they did.”

One aspect that has pleased Griffiths so far is the amount of fight shown by his players.

He said: “They’re not giving in and they won’t give in until the end of April, until it’s all over and the fat lady has sung.

“Every game they refuse to give in and the fitness levels showed with how they battled on to the end.

“There’s plenty of fight, we just need to sharpen up a few things.

“I expect us to be close in all our games from here on in.

“As long as I’m here, we’ll never give in.”

Full back Michael Keating impressed on his long awaited return to the side after missing the majority of the season with a shoulder injury.

And new signing Joe Bedford also played well on his first game in nine months.

Griffiths said: “I though Michael Keating did really well and he’s got man of the match on his first game back which isn’t a bad thing.

“He put his hand up big time as a second line attacker. He fits the bill.

“Joe Bedford made a great debut, he showed what a good player he is and he’ll get better for that.

“I thought he did really well at number ten when he moved across there.”

Griffiths will use Saturday’s final B&I Cup group game at Melrose to field fringe players, giving them the opportunity to impress.

He said: “It won’t be a dead rubber for the players that are out there on Saturday.

“It’s an important game in the grand scheme of things and with what we’re trying to do.

“We won’t be risking anyone before the London Scottish game because that’s when the season really starts.

“We’re getting competition for places and we’ll see who gets the shirt for the Scottish game.”