Doncaster Knights boss Clive Griffiths wants to bring back the fear factor in the second half of the Championship season.
“We finished runners-up last season and with Bristol being promoted we were viewed as the team to beat at the start of the season along with relegated London Irish, even though the likes of Yorkshire Carnegie and Ealing spent heavily on recruitment during the summer,” he said this week.
“I remember London Irish being very nervous when we went down there in the first game of the season and although we didn’t do ourselves justice we came away with a credible loss.
“But as the season has gone on, and we haven’t played to the heights we did last season, the other teams have started to think ‘we can have a go at these boys.’
“Whereas last season –though they weren’t beaten before they went on the field – teams knew it was going to be tough to beat us.
“But I’m sure we’ll come back and I’ve got every confidence in the players that they’ll get us into the play-offs again.”
Knights bring down the curtain on the most successful year in their history against bottom club Richmond at Castle Park on New Year’s Eve and Griffiths says they are determined to go out on a winning note.
Knights will be seeking to do the double over last season’s National One champions but Griffiths warned they face a much tougher task than they did when romping to a 57-16 win over the part-timers in September.
“I’ve watched footage of the games they’ve won and the ones where they have come close and they are a different team to earlier in the season when they were regularly getting beaten,” he said.
“They’ve won a couple of games and found a bit of confidence - and that’s half the battle - and they are starting to think that they can knock teams over.
“They are doing the basics much better and their set-piece is very good and they’ve got a good coaching team down there.
“They aren’t frightened of going straight back down and that means they can play with a care-free spirit and that makes them a dangerous side.
“They’ve certainly got players who can hurt us and we’ve got to be on our game.
“Certainly the result isn’t a foregone conclusion and by playing on Christmas Eve they will have had an extra two days to recover where we face a five-day turnaround.
“That could be crucial and we may have to rotate the squad.”