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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Doncaster ready for a real tough ‘un at Barrow

DONS coach Tony Miller expects one of the toughest games of the season when his side head to Craven Park tomorrow (3pm kick-off).

The Championship One Grand Final winners had some real tussles with Barrow last season – winning two and losing two of four intense encounters.

Raiders were the only side to beat them at the Keepmoat – doing so in the play-off semi-finals – while Doncaster’s three regular season defeats all came in Cumbria, to Barrow, Whitehaven and Workington.

Miller, whose side were beaten 22-16 in their season-opener against Dewsbury Rams last weekend, knows he can expect a similar hard battle this time round, despite Raiders’ own first day woes at Hunslet.

“I certainly think Barrow away, there are certainly easier teams to play,” he said.

“I won’t say that we have targeted Barrow specifically and said ‘yes, this is the one where we think we can win’. We have the mindset where we will try to get wins in every game.

“I think Barrow will be one of the toughest fixtures for us, to be honest.

“I think the mindset of the players has to be right when you go to Cumbria.

“For some reason, I don’t know what it is, once you get up there, things seem to change. It must be the air – you guys must be used to the air up there! It seems to have an effect, it certainly does on us anyway.

“It’s the mindset – at the end of the day, a rugby pitch is a rugby pitch and a ball is a ball. You just have to prepare properly.

“I think a lot of it has to do with inexperience as well. The more you play, the more you get used to switching off from your surroundings and just focusing on your job.

“Young lads, sometimes things divert them from what they should be doing and they are focusing on things they shouldn’t be.”

Miller will have several youngsters in his squad tomorrow, with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats trio Bobbie Goulding Jnr, Liam Kay and Danny Cowling all having featured last week.

A fourth dual-reg player, Lucas Walshaw, has now joined Dewsbury on a season-long loan deal, while Liam Cunningham is set to miss out after picking up a knock against the Rams.

The Dons boss (right) will be aiming to claim a first win this weekend, with Paul Cooke key in the middle of the park and with survival a first priority for the team, followed by hopes of a mid-table finish.

He added: “I think it will be a really tough league and you’ve got to try and get as many points as you can throughout the season. Our focus is to stay in the league and I’m sure that will be the same for Barrow.

“Hopefully you do enough to stay in the league, then you look to do better and target mid-table. If we can achieve mid-table, then I think we will have been as successful as we were last year with the standards of the teams.

“The standard has gone up from last year with all the addition players available to teams as well and if you’re not on your game and you don’t play well, then you are going to get beat, regardless of who you play.

“I do think that some of the top teams are going to underestimate the Cumbrian, sides, especially in Cumbria, and they will come unstuck.”

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