Huddersfield RUFC will be in buoyant mood heading into this weekend’s fixture against Doncaster Phoenix, but a result will not come easy against the league’s promoted side.
The Field kicked off their season in style with a 16-6 win against Sandal on Saturday thanks to a Nick Sharpe try and eight points courtesy of Chris Bell’s boot, and the Lockwood Park side will want to make it two from two when they host Doncaster for their first home match this Saturday.
“It was a hard fought win over at Sandal,” said head coach Gareth Lewis. “I was pleased with our first half performance but we dropped off in the second half and we can’t afford to do that against a very strong Doncaster Phoenix side.”
“There were a few frustrating elements, but we addressed these in training this week. Our defensive line was extremely disciplined throughout the 80 minutes.”
“We showed great energy and enthusiasm to get off the line and make the hit, time and time again showing the hard the work the boys have put into pre-season.”
But another local derby win will be a big ask of Lewis’ side. That’s because Doncaster have only lost three games in their last two seasons and got off to a winning start themselves last weekend. The main reason for their huge success over their last few seasons is due to a decision made back in June 2014.
Doncaster officials announced then that there would be a new coaching partnership between the Phoenix and Knights in a “rugby for all” motto, with both clubs playing at Castle Park.
Although the Phoenix stand as an independent amateur club, they have become very much a feeder team for the Championship side Knights.
The team is made up of Knights’ first team players who don’t make the starting XV who get playing time for them, as well as the Phoenix players who are looking to prove themselves for the Knights.
Over the last few seasons, the Phoenix have enjoyed stunning success as they climb up the Rugby Union league pyramid and they won’t want that to stop that anytime soon.
Since that announcement, the Phoenix have won back to back promotions through the Yorkshire 1 and North East 1 division; including a 100% winning streak in 2013/14 season in the Yorkshire division.
They were then named champions for the second season in a row in the North East 1 as they won 23 out of their 26 matches and scored well over 1000 points that very season.
Anthony Posa’s side got off to winning ways last weekend with a 20-5 home win against Firwood Waterloo, who finished 4th in the National North 3 last season, thanks to a try from Lee Wallace and captain Jamie Lennard’s conversions and penalties, and Lewis knows they pose a real strong threat.
He said: “They have risen through the leagues very quickly over the last few years, have high ambitions and naturally have close connections with Doncaster Knights.”
“They are well coached, have a mixture of good youngsters and experienced campaigners. We are expecting a huge challenge and know this will be tougher than the previous week following their win over at Firwood Waterloo.”
Lewis has also named his team for Saturday’s encounter, where the club will unveil their new home kit for the 2016/17 season, and there are some changes from the opening day win.
Dan Jeffrey comes in for Joel Hinchliffe and Brandon Conway makes way for Kristian Sharples, who makes his debut, and Danny Grainger earns a place on the match day bench.
Lewis said: “Again, there are some tough calls to make but with Joel Hinchliffe unavailable Dan will take this opportunity with both hands. He has very different qualities to Joel and I know he’s ready to kick start his start his season with a big performance.”
5. A Thompson
4. N Rhodes