FIT-AGAIN Yorkshire Carnegie winger David Doherty admits tomorrow’s derby at struggling Doncaster Knights is “massive” for both clubs.
Carnegie head there hoping to build on a first home Championship win of the season, a 32-17 success over Moseley, and climb up the table from ninth.
Second-bottom Doncaster must be increasingly concerned after Plymouth Albion – who hold the solitary relegation spot – moved to within just three points of them with a shock 22-8 victory over Rotherham Titans.
Knights’ 25-5 reverse at new leaders Worcester Warriors means they have now lost nine successive league games and have not won in the Championship since beating Carnegie at Headingley in September.
Only the fact that they won three of their opening four games after earning promotion means they are not cut adrift at the bottom. Obviously the pressure is more on Doncaster as they bid to avoid what would be another catastrophic relegation but Doherty conceded: “It’s a massive game for both teams.
“Doncaster don’t want to be where they are but neither do we. They come in off what was a really good performance versus Worcester but they didn’t get the result and they’ll be looking to change that on Saturday.
“We did get a win and need to start building momentum now.”
Asked what he thinks has gone awry at Castle Park, the 28 year-old said: “Doncaster started really well and it’s difficult to say what went wrong.
“They have been really unlucky when you look at some of their results and that takes its toll but momentum is a big thing, something they did have early on. They have some great players and, from what I’m told, they enjoy it there and have a great coaching set-up so we know they are dangerous.
“And we know from all the derbies that teams really raise their game for us while our name change adds a bit more spice to it all as well.”
Carnegie are grateful, therefore, for having Doherty back in shape after he missed chunks of the season with injuries.
He played just four games before the new year but has scored in each of his last two outings taking his career tally for the club to 40 tries in just 83 games.
“It’s been brilliant,” he added.
“I’ve put three 80 minutes back to back now and it’s great to be healthy and on the pitch again. I hurt my knee at the start of the season and then my Achilles but finally got it right with some shockwaves treatment and acupuncture, too.
“I’ve managed to score a couple of weeks on the bounce and that’s one of those things I look to bring to the team.
“Moseley was our first home Championship win of the season as well. It was huge to get that at last. I’ve been watching for a lot of the early part of the season from the sidelines and it was painful at times.
“The boys had been hurting not being able to get that home victory, not just for us but all those watching. It was a bit of a relief to finally do it.
“It was scrappy at times but there was bits of genius in their, too, and hopefully we can cement that now going forward.”