Doncaster RLFC will be relegated to League One this weekend if they fail to win at London Broncos.
Should Batley Bulldogs and Whitehaven both win their opening Championship Shield fixtures on Sunday, the Dons’ relegation will be confirmed regardless of the result at The Hive.
The Dons face a nigh on impossible task to retain their second tier status after a miserable campaign that has seen them win just one league game to date.
They must win all seven Championship Shield games and hope either Batley or Whitehaven, who are currently hovering just above the drop zone, lose all seven.
Head coach Thornton, meanwhile, is sweating over the fitness of several key players ahead of Saturday’s trip to the capital. Influential scrum-half Paul Mennell, props Matt Groat and Brett Waller, and full back Tom Carr are among those rated doubtful for the must-win game.
Thornton told the club’s official website this week: “We are treating it [the Championship Shield] as a new competition and a new start, we want to try and get as many points on the board as possible.
“We don’t have the easiest set of fixtures, but it was always going to be difficult with where we finished in the league table.
“There is a lot of travelling, twice up to Cumbria and down to London which isn’t ideal, especially with some of the kick-off times, but that is out of our control.
“Against the top sides in the division it is tough, but we see playing the teams around us a challenge.”