Words By Jack Conlon
Image by Lewis Mitchell
On the back of last week’s memorable game against Toronto, the All Golds face another tough test on Sunday, as we come up against Doncaster in our last game of the regular season.
While the result didn’t go in our favour, the Golden Fern put up a real fight, even managing to come away with two impressive tries. It was the defensive performance, however, that really caught the eye, as we held the Toronto attack up over the line on seven occasions throughout the game.
There were plenty of positives to take away and coach Lee Greenwood said that the game, as well as the whole trip, was a huge success: “I’m massively proud of every single player. To come out here was always going to be tough but the guys dug in and did themselves proud. We defended a fair few sets on our own line and kept them out which I haven’t seen many teams do.
“We scored two tries and could have had a couple more. It was disappointing to concede that one late on but things like that can happen.
“We’re a young, inexperienced side so to come here and face players who have played at the very highest level will be a big learning curve for our players. We had some really good spells in the game and played right to the full time hooter so as a coach you can’t ask for more.
“The players have embraced Canada and had a great time. We had a trip to Niagara Falls and saw a Blue Jays game. To play in front of such a big crowd is great. Toronto are a very good side and you’d expect them to be up at the top end of the Championship next season.
“We suffered plenty of injuries during the game which wasn’t great. We’ll be hoping some of the players who came off might be available for Doncaster but we’ll have to wait and see.”
The All Golds have yet to lose three consecutive matches this season and Lee Greenwood has plenty of selection options before he names his 19-man squad for the game.
Harry Kidd, Brad Kislingbury and Ben Stead are still unavailable despite finishing their World Cup duties with England Students on Friday. Unfortunately the injury Alex Gaskell suffered in Toronto has ruled him out of Sunday’s game but Chris Barlow could be back in contention after missing out last week. Kadeem Williams could also feature after missing the trip to Canada due to work commitments.
The Dons come into the game on the back of convincing wins over South Wales and Oxford in the past two weeks, with their 70-12 thrashing of the Ironmen being their second biggest win of the season. There’s no place in Richard Horne’s squad for former All Gold Jason Muranka, while they are also without Tom Carr, Jason Tali, Jordan Howden, Russ Spiers and Zac Braham.
Doncaster squad: Aaron Jones-Bishop, Liam Welham, Sam Doherty, Jordie Hedges, Mark Castle, Kyle Kesik, Iafeta Palea’aesina, Peter Green, Charlie Martin, Connor Scott, Jack Miller, Ryan Wright, Mike Kelly, Kieran Cross, Louis Sheriff, Jamie Thackray, Reece Dean, Makali Aizue, Brad England
Match Details: Kick-off 3pm
Prince of Wales Stadium, Cheltenham