29th March 2018, 10:42 | championship

Horne pleased with Doncaster's start to League 1 campaign

Horne pleased with Doncaster's start to League 1 campaign

By Daniel Fowler

Doncaster coach Richard Horne has been happy with his side’s start to the Betfred League 1 season, as they sit top of the table after three rounds.

Victories over Coventry, Whitehaven and Newcastle sees the South Yorkshire club share first place with promotion favourites Bradford Bulls.

Horne's men also progressed in the Challenge Cup against Newcastle but their most recent victory over Thunder in the league - 20-22 at Kingston Park - was a scrappy one.

"It saw us take a couple of steps back in our performance, with the way we have been performing and standards we have set ourselves," said the Hull FC hall-of-famer.

"We were fortunate to get the win.

"They (Newcastle) will be looking at it and will be disappointed not to have got the result as they were the better team on the day.

"We managed to play seven minutes of good rugby and secure the win."

The Dons' previous margins of victory in the league were 38 points against Whitehaven and 60 against Coventry, but Horne is certainly not getting carried away, and neither are the players.

"We are taking our opportunities at the moment," he added.

"Those games were closer than what the score-line says from the outside looking in.

"We have been really clinical when we have had opportunities and that’s been pleasing.

"We have been in games and we have been working hard defensively."

Another likeable part about Doncaster's rise - albeit after three games - to the top of the league table is the mix of youthful and local talent in their first team squad.

Kyle Kesik has been part of the Dons furniture since signing from Sheffield Eagles in 2009 while Zac Braham and Kieran Cross came through the ranks at Doncaster Toll Bar before making the move to the Keepmoat.

When asked how important it is to bring local players into the team, Horne said: "It's huge. We are working hard behind the scenes to promote rugby in a football city.

"Carl and the staff in the background are trying to get into the schools and work hard with promoting rugby in Doncaster.

"Hopefully we can help that with success and keep doing what we are doing and drive Rugby League in Doncaster.

"The more we do that, the more chance we will have of young kids coming through the systems.

"It's great to have Crossy, Zac and Kes in there and doing a really good job."

One of the highlights of Good Friday rugby in League 1 will be Doncaster's home match against York City Knights.

James Ford's Knights ran Bradford close in the opening fixture of the year before bouncing back with victories against Keighley and Oldham in the league as well as knocking Championship side Swinton out of the Challenge Cup.

Horne knows just how tough it will be for Doncaster to maintain their 100 per cent record.

"We know they are a quality outfit and probably had tougher tests than what we’ve had," he admitted.

"I know York, the way they play and the way they like to move the ball, they aren’t too dissimilar to us.

"They have the kind of players and qualities in there that will be able to pull us apart if we gift them field position and opportunities."

Win, lose or draw this Friday against York, the early signs of a promising season for Horne’s Doncaster are certainly there.