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2003 Match Preview: Doncaster (Cup)
Match Preview: Doncaster Match Preview Posted on Friday, February 28 2003 @ 16:17:04 GMT by Bilko

Doncaster Dragons v Wigan Warriors Powergen Challenge Cup Round 5
Sunday 2nd March 2003. Kick Off 3.00pm at Belle Vue.
Match Introduction
Wigan travel to Doncaster on Sunday for the first time since 1995 looking to progress to the quarter finals of the Powergen Challenge Cup.

That match was at the old Tatters Field ground. A young Jason Robinson scored two of our four tries that day in a 28-10 victory. 

These days Doncaster play at Belle Vue, a venue which the share with Doncaster Rovers football club.

The National League Division 1 opponents have won 5 matches in a row Ellis in his Castleford playing days under the leadership of former Castleford winger St John Ellis. You may remember he played for Cas in the late 80s & early 90s and scored 40 tries in one season for them back in 1993/94. 

Last year he led the Dragons to a 7th place play off position finish in the old NFP.

Ellis has been trying to intimidate the Warriors side all week by telling them to expect a tough physical battle!

He said: "They know they're going to get a physical battle, that's the way we like to play. It's a physical game and, if you win the hitting war, it goes a long way towards winning the game."

Wigan coach Stuart Raper responded by saying: "I'm fed up with opposition coaches mouthing off and trying to intimidate Wigan. We're going to let the game do the talking. We are taking this game very seriously."

Wigan have met Doncaster twice in the Challenge Cup previously.

The first meeting was at Doncaster in 1989. Just like this season we visited them as cup holders. Joe Lydon scored four tries in a 38-6 win.. Denis Betts, Tony Iro and Shaun Edwards got the other tries and Kevin Iro kicked five goals in front of a 5,274 crowd.

The second and last Challenge Cup meeting between the sides was at this very stage of the Challenge Cup just three years a go at the JJB Stadium.

Back then, the final score of Wigan 38 Doncaster 2 suggested that it was an easy victory and in the end it probably was. But at half time the score was just 12-2 and Doncaster had put in a creditable performance before running out of steam.

The question is can they produce a top quality 80 minute performance this Sunday? I'm not so sure. We saw last year Leigh compete with us for about an hour before being beaten and this will probably be the case with Doncaster. The home support will help them but class will shine through in the end.

There are plenty of unknown quantities in the Doncaster squad, as you would expect from lower division opposition, but they do have one or two familiar players with Super League experience.

Centre Marvin Golden played for Leeds between 1994 and 1999, but he never really gained a regular starting place at Headingley. Stand Off half Paul Mansson is an ex Salford, Widnes & Canberra player and Simon Irving is also an influential player for the Dragons. They also be looking for winger Jason Lee and full back Craig Ross to be on top form in attack.

As we speculated earlier in the week, Sunday's game is expected to see 19 year old youngster Gareth Hock being given his professional Warriors debut from the substitutes bench. After suffering a bad injury last season, which ruled him out for six months, he bounced back to become player of the series for England Unders 18s against the Australian Schoolboys. To do that with little game time for half a year was a tremendous achievement for him and it just shows what potential he has. I'm looking forward to seeing him play. Some people say he is our biggest prospect out of the many we currently have at the club.

Coach Raper has been forced to reshuffle the forward pack with Andy Farrell joining Terry O'Connor and Ricky Bibey on the injury list. Terry Newton is moved to the substitutes bench and will probably be used as a back up prop for Danny Sculthorpe and Craig Smith. Stephen Wild could be used in that role too but whether that's Raper's intention we'll have to wait and see.

With Newton on the bench, Mark Smith gets a rare opportunity to start. It'll be four years since he made his Warriors debut next week and he has had to sit on the bench for most of that period. So he'll be desperate to impress in the hope of gaining a regular first team start.

The back line is boosted by the return of Brett Dallas. At this stage of the competition last year he scored 4 tries in the 72-6 victory against Union Trieziste Catalane. I wouldn't bet against him repeating the feat at Belle Vue but with this being his first game since being stretched off against Widnes last July that may be asking a bit too much. The return of Dallas offsets the loss of Paul Johnson but Jamie Ainscough will have to move inside and partner Dave Hodgson in the centres.

Opposition Ones to Watch

Jason Lee & Craig Ross

Winger Jason Lee was Doncaster's top try scorer last season with 22 tries. Full Back Craig Ross wasn't far behind him. He scored 18 tries last year.

The Dragons will be looking to these two for there firepower in attack.

PLAYER NUMBERS: Ross: 1 Lee: 5
Team News
Wigan Doncaster
Team Line Up: Radlinski, Dallas, Ainscough, Hodgson, Carney, O'Neill, Lam, C. Smith, M. Smith, Sculthorpe, Tickle, Cassidy, O'Loughlin
Subs. Wild, Newton, Hock, Aspinwall.
Doncaster have no serious injury problems apart from those on the long term injury list and Brad Hepi is cup-tied. They will finalise there side over the weekend.
Match Referee
Pre Match Quotes
Wigan Doncaster
"If he (St John Ellis) wants to welcome us to his house of pain, then he must accept that his players will be getting some pain too. We will not allow them to dictate this match to us. We'll not be showing any mercy to anyone." Coach Stuart Raper.
"We're under no illusions that it's going to be tough but I'm telling the players not to get over-awed and to just enjoy the occasion. The pressure is on them, they are expected to win and we are expected to lose. But between that there is 80 minutes of expectation." Doncaster coach St John Ellis.
Opposition Form (Last 6)
Date Opposition Competition Result Score
23/02/03 Featherstone (A) Arriva Trains Cup Won 37-24
16/02/03 Sheffield (A) Arriva Trains Cup Won 26-4
09/02/03 York (A) Challenge Cup Rd 4 Won 21-20
02/02/03 York (H) Arriva Trains Cup Won 24-4
26/01/03 Redhill (H) Challenge Cup Rd 3 Won 64-2
19/01/03 Keighley (A) Arriva Trains Cup Lost 14-21

Wigan Form (Last 6 all comps most recent game first): LWWLWW

Previous Challenge Cup Meetings
Date Result Match Report


1989 Doncaster 6 Wigan 36 No Report 5274
27th Feb 2000 Wigan 38 Doncaster 2 Click Here 6225

Challenge Cup Record: Doncaster 0 Wigan 2

Matchday Weather

From bbc.co.uk.

Light Rain Suuny Spells & Showers
Wind: 6mph from the South East.
Temps: Max: 11°C Low: -1°C

Ticket & Ground Details
Standing: Adults: £10 Concessions: £2 OAPs: £4
Seating: As above but tickets for seating areas need to be bought in advance.

Click Here for Doncaster Ground Guide.
Media Coverage
TV: No TV Coverage    
Radio: BBC GMR will be covering the Man Utd v Liverpool Football Worthington Cup Final from 2pm till 4pm. So Rugby League will only be focused on after 4pm. Doncaster v Wigan is the main commentary game but due to the football there will only be second half commentary and odd reports on the first half. At the ground you can find BBC Radio Sheffield coverage on there 1035am frequency only.
Internet: The BBC cannot broadcast football online so the BBC GMR Sunday Sport online feed will only be available once the football as finished (approx 4pm) at bbc.co.uk/manchester.
Opposition Views
Breathing Fire - Official Site
Official Message Board - Hosted by RLFans.com
Doncaster 12 Wigan 34
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