Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Sunday's Coming: Doncaster

Last last year, Hull FC brought West Tigers' tyro half-back Jacob Miller to the UK in a vain attempt to save their season. Having fast-tracked through the grades at Leichhardt due to their own injury-pocalypse he was chucked into the limelight at just 20 years old. Suddenly finding himself on the other side of the world, cast as Saviour in the Rugby League's most critical city, it's obvious to anyone with eyes and the smallest amount of humanity that burdening a young man with such an unreasonable amount of expectation wouldn't do either party many favours. Indeed, after struggling to replicate the form that catapulted him to prominence, Miller finds himself farmed out to Doncaster and told to 'prove his worth'.

His impact at the Keepmoat can be measured by his performance last week: scoring two tries and making a third as the Dons over-ran Workington 36-10. Clearly it's a level of contribution that Paul Cooke would be keen to retain, but with Hull's half-back 'musical chairs' in full effect this week he could find his side shorn of Miller's strike potential.

However that plays out, Doncaster's relationship with the Dual Registration system looks a bit strained at the moment with the club charged by the RFL for fielding ineligible Hull FC player Ben Crooks against Keighley on Sunday July 27. Doncaster have their case heard by an independent tribunal today (August 14): a guilty verdict could result in a fine and/or a points deduction.

Operational transgressions notwithstanding, Doncaster sit comfortably in 4th place in the Championship with 15 wins and a draw from 23 games. And with a big-money  2nd place finish still within their grasp, each of their remaining three games carries huge importance.

While Hornets have just four games of their Championship adventure remaining they have incentives to finish outside the bottom two still to play for. Third bottom in any other season would've been deemed a huge success for a club of Hornets' size. However, this year's over-zealous pruning of the Championship leaves three clubs taking the drop who ordinarily would've stayed up - and with that comes a £15,000 compensation payment from the RFL: effectively the difference between the RFL distribution in Championship one and the one in the division above.

And, as someone once said, every little helps.

See you Sunday.

Rochdale Hornets coach Ian Talbot must overcome a mounting injury list if his side are to secure a shock victory in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash.

Hornets, whose relegation has already been confirmed, are without Ryan King, Chris Baines, John Cookson, Lewis Sheridan, Ryan Millard and Warren Thompson.
Talbot said: “The injuries have hit us hard at the back end of the season, and we’re backing up on Wednesday away at Sheffield, so we’ve got a big challenge in front of us.
“When we went to Doncaster early in the season Paul Cooke was very influential, so we’ll be looking for an improved performance. We like playing at home and we’ve caused one or two upsets, and hopefully we can cause another.”
Jordan Case could come into contention for the hosts, while Doncaster have been dealt their own blows with the news that Kyle Kesik (broken hand) and Mike Kelly (foot) look like missing the rest of the season.
Doncaster coach Paul Cooke said: “The news about Kyle and Mike is not ideal, but we’ve had to deal with injuries all year.”
He added: “We desperately need to win this game. With the two teams directly above us (Featherstone Rovers and Halifax) playing each other, it gives us the chance to narrow the gap on one of them.
“But Rochdale are carefree, and they’re not a bad side at all. They troubled us at our place, and we’ll have to be on our guard.”