Doncaster Knights were denied a thoroughly deserved home win by a last minute converted try as Championship high flyers Bedford Blues stole victory away from Brett Davey’s much improved side.
The Yorkshiremen arguably produced their strongest performance of the season in a dominant forward display that should have put them out of sight against a below par Bedford side who were extremely lucky to escape with four points.
The Knights had the better of the opening exchanges; mounting several promising attacks through their powerful pack, but poor handling and decision making cost them an early lead as the set-piece again laid a good platform.
Bedford were quick to react and enjoyed spells of territory in the Doncaster half, but again errors cost them a breakthrough.
But there is a resoluteness about this Knights team as Jamie Lennard pushed his forwards deep into the Blues 22 with a well struck penalty giving the Knights a lineout just five metres from the try line. The Donny pack were again quick to set up a driving maul which was halted illegally as the home side piled on the pressure.
The Knights continued their assault of the Bedford whitewash through several line-outs, but the ball spilt loose before another passing move failed to unlock the opposition defence.
Thankfully the Knights wouldn’t have to wait much longer for their first score as another driving lineout was carried over by Dominic Parsons for a deserved 7-0 lead after Lennard had converted from out wide.
The visitors responded with a penalty from fly-half Jake Sharp, but the first half ended with Donny in the ascendancy again just failing at the final hurdle in a very impressive first half display that should have given them more than a 7-3 advantage on the whistle.
Brett Davey’s charges started the second period in the same attacking vein as they ended the first, a deft chip by Dougie Flockhart saw him race around his opposite number before being tackled into touch just short of the line.
But it was Bedford that found that killer touch, experienced centre Brendan Burke hitting a good line and evading tacklers to register the first try for his side as the Doncaster concentration again slipped with several defensive errors. Sharp added the extras to put the
Blues undeservedly in the lead.
Donny were not deterred by falling behind for the first time in the match and proceeded to pulverize the Blues forwards. Bedford continued to illegally disrupt the Knights attack, with Paul Tupai constantly killing the ball in dangerous areas, yet the yellow card never came.
Eventually the pressure told and Brian McGovern finished off a strong driving maul having only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes. Lennard nailed a spectacular kick from the touchline to give the Knights a four point advantage.
And Doncaster didn’t have to wait long to extend their lead as Dante Mama collected a spilt ball from the Bedford backline to show lightening pace and gallop clear for a sixty metre try under the posts. Lennard gratefully accepted the simple conversion as Knights looked poised for victory.
With little over ten minutes to play the Knights were forced on the back foot as it appeared we were in for a tense finish. Miscommunication between Chris Hallam, who defended superbly all match, and Lennard resulted in the visitors winning a scrum five metres from the Knights line. The Blues recycled the ball well and scored out wide through prop Ricky Reeves.
The Knights followed this with stout defensive play that seemed to have done enough to have closed out the game, but another Bedford penalty was awarded with seconds left on the clock. The Blues continued to batter the Knights line through line-out and scrum before being held up over the line.
Time continued to run as the referee came back for an earlier penalty as Tom Davies saw yellow and was sent to the sin-bin for an indiscretion at the ruck and eventually with ten minutes overtime played Bedford touched down through winger Josh Bassett. Burke nervously converted to steal victory from the bewildered Knights.
Doncaster Knights: Jamie Lennard, Dougie Flockhart, Dante Mama, Will Simpson (James Tincknell 40’) Tyson Lewis, Tom Luke (Sam Pailor 78’) Chris Hallam (James Munro 65’) Tom Davies, Rhys Buckley (Ben Sowery 61), Tomas Francis (Brian McGovern 55’), Matt Challinor ©, Dominic Parsons, Adam Kettle (Andy Boyde 51’) David Bradford, Chris Planchant.
Tries; Parsons 16, McGovern 56, Mama 61.
Conversions; Lennard 16, 56, 61.
Bedford Blues: Mark Atknson, Mark Kohler, Brendan Burke, Henry Staff (Ian Vass), Josh Bassett, Jake Sharp, Darryl Veenendaal, Ricky Reeves (Darren Fearn 75’), Scott Spurling (Neil Cochrane 51’), Dan Seal (Ben Cooper 55’), Mike Howard, Alex Rae, Gregor Gillanders, Darren Fox, Paul Tupai.
Penalties: Sharp 25.
Tries: Burke 49, Reeves 69, Bassett 80.
Conversions: Sharp 49, Burke 80.
Referee: Greg Macdonald
Written by Michael Casey