Warriors 25 v Knights 5
The Knights arrived at Castle Park to face Worcester Warriors knowing the size of the task ahead of them. Dean Ryan’s men had not tasted defeat since the opening game of the season versus Bristol and a squad boasting a wealth of rugby experience at the very highest level. Despite this the Knights took to the field at Sixways Stadium and for 65 minutes matched the Warriors in every department to play with courage and endeavor before the home side’s class told in the dying minutes.
In front of a 5,000 strong crowd the Knights started brightly and took the early possession. A break by scrum half Jack Maplesden carried the team forward, just short of the home 22-metre but a foul on the floor afforded Worcester a chance to clear.
Following the initial spurt Warriors settled in to the contest and the Knights had to endure a series of heavy attacks. Firstly winger Dean Hammond looked like he may well have been in for the hosts but frantic defence from Ume Fosita and Andy Bulumakau was enough to put the speedster to touch. Penalty advantage meant the Warriors could go again, they elected scrum and after a good drive from the Knights pack Worcester eventually got the ball away. Space looked to have been created down the right flank but an ambitious pass aimed towards Hammond was off target and bounce into touch. Another opportunity fell to the winger shortly after but once again solid defence forced an error and the Knights kept their try line intact.
Both sides committed fully to their endeavours in attack and defence and it took it’s toll, tight head Nick Schonert was forced from the field of play very early on to be replaced by Mike Daniels. The replacement did little to affect the Knights early dominance in the scrum and a handful of scrum penalties saw some good territory established.
After the storm of the first ten-minute’s few would argue that the majority of the first half did not belong to the Knights. Extended spells of patient possession, where the pack battled for every inch, created opportunity. Breaks came for Donny, with front row pairing Colin Quigley and Ben Hunter finding themselves with space in front of them out wide. The Knights continued to plug away at Worcester as the half wore on but the well-drilled home defences looked watertight and on the odd occasion they did enjoy possession moved the ball with worrying pace and purpose.
With less than ten minutes before the interval the hosts went up a gear. A strong wind meant kicking for territory and to clear danger was problematic for the Knights in the first half and under pressure Jack Maplesden forced a box kick dropped that just outside the Knights 22-metre. The hosts moved possession quickly following the line out but a pass to flanker Sam Betty was judged forward and the Knights won another penalty from the resulting scrum. The wind affected Fosita’s kick to touch and a miss-fire at the line out granted Worcester good attacking position, strong interlinking between centres Andy Symons and Max Stelling created room for the latter who raced home. Ryan Lamb could not convert the extras.
Before the half the Knights were hit with a Speight of injuries that saw Ben Hunter, Piers Francis and Colin Quigley all leave the field in quick succession. Despite the disruption the Knights finished in the ascendancy. A turnover deep in the Worcester half quickly found it’s way into Mat Clark’s hands and the centre carried powerfully. The forwards quickly supported the break and drove up towards the Warriors try line, a hand full of pick and go carries got the Knights within inches before being held up in goal and the half time whistle being blown.
Trailing by just five points, having enjoyed the majority of possession and playing with the wind in the second half, the prospect of an upset was being uttered in the stands.
The hosts started brightly and a rare slip up at a Knights scrum allowed Ryan Lamb to kick a penalty to the Knights 22m. Donny defended their line resolutely and eventually forced a fumble out of Worcester. This was a theme for the opening twenty minutes of the second half; the Knights defended with commitment and dogged determination but the waves of home attacks continued to come.
The breakthrough came for Worcester just after the hour mark, a sweeping attack from right to left had the Knights defences stretched and just short of his own try line Bevon Armitage slowed the ball at a ruck to prevent what would have in all likelihood been a try. The centre was shown a yellow card for the indiscretion, the resulting penalty was put to touch and from the line out the Warriors pack rumbled over with flanker Sam Betty touching down.
With a man advantage the Knights could no longer hold the league’s high fliers and Worcester registered three further tries in the next ten minute’s of play. Firstly, winger Tom Biggs finished a flowing backs move to touch down in the corner before a quickly taken penalty from Charlie Mulchrone put the Warriors on the front foot, the pack carried the move forward and Betty registered his second. Finally replacement tight head Mike Daniels showed an impressive turn of foot to intercept a stray pass a sprint home from his own half.
Once again Doncaster showed that they will always play until the final whistle is blown and in the game’s closing seconds got a try of their own. Dougie Flockhart took a quick penalty to break into the Worcester half. Mat Clark carried the break forward and as the forwards arrived Ross Davies picked up to barge his way over and score. Dougie was unable to convert, making the final score 25-5.
A determined effort by the Knights who now have a week to recover before a Yorkshire derby clash with Carnegie; the importance of which cannot be underestimated.
15 Ben Howard, 14 Dean Hammond, 13 Max Stelling (Alex Grove 56’), 12 Andy Symons, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Ryan Lamb (Ignacio Mieres 72’), 9 Jonny Arr (Charlie Mulchrone 55’), 1 Ryan Bower (George Porter 66’), 2 Agustin Creevy (Dan George 56’), 3 Nick Schonert (Mike Daniels 12’), 4 Mike Williams, 5 Jonathan Thomas, 6 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Sam Betty, 8 GJ van Velze (C) (Dan Sanderson 72’)
Replacements;16 Dan George,17 George Porter, 18 Mike Daniels, 19 Dan Sanderson, 20 Charlie Mulchrone, 21 Ignacio Mieres, 22 Alex Grove
Tries; Stelling 32’, Betty 63’ & 72’, Biggs 66’, Daniels 73’
15. Paul Jarvis, 14 .Dougie Flockhart, 13. Andy Bulumakau, 12. Bevon Armitage, 11. Tyson Lewis, 10. Piers Francis (Mat Clark 32’), 9. Jack Maplesden (Ed Hoadley 70’), 1. Richard List (Jack Bergmanas 58’), 2 .Ben Hunter (Vili Veikoso 38’), 3. Colin Quigley (Ross Davies 39’), 4. Tyler Hotson, 5. Jon Phelan (Phil Eggleshaw 63’), 6. Matt Challinor, 7. Michael Hills © (Will Foden 72’), 8. Alex Shaw.
Replacement; 16. Jack Bergmanas, 17. Viliame Veikoso, 18. Ross Davies, 19. Phil Eggleshaw, 20. Mat Clark, 21. Ume Fosita, 22. Ed Hoadley
Tries; Davies 79’
Sin Bin; Armitage 61’
Referee: JP Doyle