Doncaster Knights dominated their first home encounter of the 2012/13 season with a resounding 53-0 win over Cambridge.
The Knights stylish victory became the first time they have nilled an opposition since beating Waterloo in December 2006 to move top of the division with 44-0 pasting, but perhaps more importantly this drubbing laid down an impressing marker for the season ahead.
Donny were on the attack from the off and quickly converted early pressure into points as openside flanker Jethro Rawling burrowed his way across the threshold to open the scoring after several assaults on the Cambridge try line. Jamie Lennard converted the try for what would be his first of six successful kicks on goal from six attempts.
Brett Davey’s men continued to attack following the restart and it wasn’t long before a strong run from Adam Kettle and slick handling by Lennard and James Tincknell forced the stretched visiting defence to infringe at the breakdown. Lennard took the opportunity to increase the lead by slotting a penalty.
An encouraging feature of the early encounters was how strong the Knights line-out looked; former Newport Gwent Dragons pair Rhys Buckley and Royce Cadman linking up nicely on several occasions. Several attacking positions left the Knights metres out with Buckley being held up short; the resultant scrum allowed skipper Matt Challinor to pounce on the strewed ball to register the second try, Lennard slotting the extras.
A sensational break and well-timed pass by Tom Luke put the supporting Michael Keating through under the posts shortly after, with Lennard increasing his tally as Knights moved 24 points to the good.
One of the most impressive parts of Doncaster’s play was their defence as Cambridge continued to knock on the door; especially strong work came from back-rower Steve Hipwell but the valiant Knights spirit didn’t falter. Just short of the half-time whistle the visitors infringed again allowing Lennard to chip away another penalty to lead 27-0 at the interval.
The second period brought a host of changes for both sides; but once again the Knights started brightly, a superb line break by last season’s top try scorer Keating allowed the ever present and supporting Mama to cross underneath the sticks.
The biggest disappointment of the game followed shortly after as young starlet Tomas Francis was forced off the field of play with what looked a serious ankle injury.
The Yorkshiremen rediscovered their flair after a period of error strewn play, Mama again exposing a slight organizational mistake by Cambridge to gallop home for his double, this time Flockhart comfortably added the extras.
Credit must be given to the Cambridge side who stuck to their task despite the score-line but, with just under ten minutes to play the Knights struck once more. A catch and drive move from another dependable line-out ended with David Bradford touching down. And with seconds left in the match Tincknell rubbed salt in the wounds, hitting a great line whilst shrugging off defenders to touch down and squeeze the Knights over the half-century mark. Flockhart nudged the conversion for a 53-0 rout.
15 Michael Keating 14 Dougie Flockhart 13 James Tincknell 12 Tom Luke 11 Dante Mama 10 Jamie Lennard 9 Louis Silver 8 Adam Kettle 7 Jethro Rawling 6 Matt Challinor © 5 Dom Parsons 4 Royce Cadman 3 Jerry Buckley 2 Rhys Buckley 1 Tom Davies
Replacements: Adam Tamanis, Tom Francis, Ben Sowery, Andy Boyde, Tom Barrett, Will Simpson, David Bradford (All Used).
Tries: Rawling 3”, Challinor 20”, Keating 25”, Mama 45”, 62”, Bradford 72”, Tincknell 79”
Pens: Lennard 9”, 40”
Cons: Lennard (4) Flockhart (2)
15 M. Ayrton 14 M. Gillick 13 A. Portsmouth 12 W. Carrington 11 J. Hale 10 A. White 9 D. Hunter 8 S. Hipwell 7 O. Watson 6 B. White 5 B. Jenkins 4 R. Conquest 3 C. Cutts 2 B. Hunter 1 B. Cooper
Replacements: M. Gillick, J. Burgese, M Bellamy, A. Smith, E. Bale, J. Ayrton, R. Kevan, B. White, J Mayhew, H. Robins, L. Stapleton, J. Palmer, T. Fidler (All used).