Sport Rugby

Friday 17 November 2017

Aston hoping for real day to remember against Knights

Ian Laybourn

Ireland coach Mark Aston is hoping his side can capitalise on their surprise opening win over Scotland when they take on a star-studded England Knights in the Alitalia Cup in Belfast this evening.

Aston enjoyed his first win as Ireland head coach when they opened their campaign with a 30-18 triumph in Edinburgh last Sunday.

But he knows they will face a much tougher task against a Knights side that trounced Ireland 62-4 in St Helen's in June.

"The Knights are filled with big names and we will be big underdogs, but that just means a good result will be even better," Aston said. "For the Ireland players that makes this game truly special -- it's a challenge, a responsibility, a test and a huge occasion.

"We are going to go out there and play as well as we can, leave nothing behind."

The game at Deramore Park will be the first rugby league international to be staged in Belfast since the 2000 World Cup, in which Ireland beat Samoa in their opening match at Windsor Park.

The Alitalia Cup, which ends tomorrow week when the Scots host the Knights, is seen as crucial preparation for the 2013 World Cup for both teams.

Knights coach Kieron Purtill has a 100pc record so far, but will not be underestimating their latest opponents.

"We've got a strong squad available and we're putting pressure on ourselves to win and ensure we keep the legacy of previous Knights teams going," said Purtill.

"Mark Aston got his first win in charge of Ireland last week and they've got the upper hand in the competition now, so we have to go over there and get a result."

ireland (from) -- M Hadden (Antrim), S Deevy (Athboy), W Kerr (Country Cowboys), E Cosgrove (Dewsbury), T McKeown (Dublin City), L Finn (Featherstone, capt), L Ambler, C Casey, S Hesketh (all Halifax), S Wellens (Ireland Students), S Littler, G McNally (Leigh), J Toole (Mounties), C Roche (Leeds), A McCloskey (Treaty City), T Bergin (Sheffield), J Mendeika, T McCarthy (Warrington), C Sice (Whitehaven), J O'Donnell (Wigan).

England Knights (probable) -- C Riley (Warrington); K Dixon (London), J Turner (Hull), R Evans (Warrington), J Broughton (Salford); D Sarginson (London), L Gale (Bradford); S Taylor (Hull KR), D Houghton (Hull, capt), G Burgess (South Sydney), J Hughes (Wigan), M Lawrence (Huddersfield), M Cooper (Warrington).

Irish Independent

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