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Thornton pre Crusaders

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Dons Head Coach Gary Thornton was relishing the prospect of getting back to league action at Keepmoat Stadium on Sunday when North Wales Crusaders are the visitors.

Despite a shock 24-12 loss on home soil to London Skolars in the iPRO Sports Cup Quarter Final, and the injury to half back Jordie Hedges that came with it, Thornton remained positive.

“I’ve watched it back and in truth I thought a lot of what we did was pretty good; we defended our try line really well,” he said.

“I was disappointed with the result though, we targeted that game as a win and we’re disappointed with how it unfolded. We conceded four tries but two were from speculative kicks and one was from a one on one ball steal from a forward pass where I can’t believe the referee has missed it.

“The injury situation has been made worse by the loss of Jordie and he will be a big loss as he’s just found his feet and is integral to everything we do. He was captain for the day too and it was sad to see him go down as he’s a big part of what we’re doing this year.”

Thornton, who moved swiftly to acquire Dewsbury Rams pairing Brad and James Delaney, hailed the first appearance of prop Mark Castle as a bonus for the Dons though as they look to “ride the storm.”

“We made a decision that we needed to strengthen in those key areas and I know both Brad and James from the Dewsbury Moor area and I’ve know about them,” said Thornton.

“Brad’s grown at Huddersfield, Halifax and now Dewsbury where he’s always been on the fringes of the first team. They’re an established Championship team and Glenn Morrison said he’s been going really well and he comes recommended. We trust their – and our – judgement that we’ve brought in a quality player. The key thing is that he’s a natural half back.

“James is slightly older; more experienced at hooker and spent some time in Australia. He’s a tough competitor and a good organiser and being cousins they're familiar with how each other plays and I think they’ll offer quite a bit this week.

“One of the highs of Sunday was getting Cas through with no further injuries and he showed what an impact he can have. We keep forgetting about him because he’s been out all season and it was his first appearance but we’ve missed what he can bring. With him, Nicholson and Scott; once we get them and the key pivots back we’ll be okay. “

Thornton’s parting shot, however, was to firmly rubbish the notion that being knocked out of both cup competitions allowed the Dons to focus on the league; starting with the visit of a beleaguered Crusaders side.

“In all honesty I want to win every game we go in to. I know there’s only so far you can go in the Challenge Cup but I can’t pretend that I was happy with how either the Hunslet game, or the London Skolars game went. We went in to both games planning to win them, it’s not a consolation that we can now focus on the league, and I think that’s a bit of a myth. We would have been looking forward to playing in an iPRO Cup Semi Final and we’re disappointed that we’re not but that has to drive us on now to make sure we do well in the league and finish as high as we can going in to the play offs.

“They gave a good account of themselves earlier in the season and there was only seven points between the two sides. We had Paleaaesina and Yeaman who helped us that day so it’s not going to be an easy game.”


Call 01302 762576 or CLICK HERE to buy your tickets to Dons v Crusaders.

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