Three second half scores for the Knights was enough for them to turnaround a half time deficit and secure all five points against a dogged Moseley outfit.
On the game that marked a quarter century of Tony DeMulder’s DRFC Club Presidency it was safe to say that Castle Park was in a celebratory mood long before any rugby took place. However, in a fine second forty, the Knights rose to the occasion and eventually ran out comfortable winners against a notoriously tough Moseley outfit to ensure the celebration continued long into the night.
On a cold, wet November afternoon the hosts started brightly and could well have registered a very early score through Ollie Stedman. The number eight made a powerful charge down the blindside and seemed to have options outside, he elected to go himself and ended up being stopped just short. The breakthrough would come shortly after however and this time Stedman would not be denied. Having conceded a penalty, converted by Glyn Hughes, the Knights took advantage following a penalty of their own. Dec Cusack put a well weighted kick to the corner and the Donny pack established a well-formed driving lineout that had the Moseley pack back peddling and the number eight picked his moment to crash over, Dougie Flockhart added the extras, 7-0.
The Knights continued to be the better of the two sides as the half progressed but in slippery conditions errors curtailed a number of home attacks and Moseley kept themselves in the hunt and despite having being second best in most departments. The strong crosswind did little to effect the Knights set piece which performed throughout well but a poor couple of minutes gave Moseley an opportunity with the clock ticking towards the interval. Firstly, Ben Hunter produced a rare wayward throw and then from the following scrum the Knights pack gave up a penalty allowing Hughes to a kick a penalty to touch deep into the Knights 22m. The visitors tried to drive over the line but were stopped short but continued to seek advantage through the forwards with a series of pick and go carries. The Knights piled bodies behind the ball but eventually a hole appeared and Chris Brightwell broke through to score. Hughes could not convert but the try was enough to give the Midlanders a 7-8 half time lead.
Despite the conditions, the game was played at a frantic pace with defense very much the order of the day; it became pretty clear that it would take something out of the ordinary to pierce the resistance for what would be a crucial first score of the second half. A moment of brilliance from Mat Clark created just that as the centre broke through two challenges to race downfield, in support was Tyson Lewis and Clark was able to find him at full pace and the winger would not be stopped. Dougie added the extras.
Moseley responded promptly and attacked from the restart. A series of powerful carries, notably from flanker Buster Lawrence, moved the visitors downfield and forced a ruck infringement out of the Knights that Hughes successfully converted. This was cancelled out moments later as Ben Hunter won his side a penalty immediately after the restart which, after a period of advantage, was put through the posts by Flockhart.
With the game finely poised at 17-11 as the final quarter arrived both sets of coaches looked to utilize their replacements; Clive made wholesale changes just after the hour mark with Championship leading try-scorer Latu Makaafi entering the field of play. Latu’s impact was almost immediate as, following a solid scrum deep in the Knights half, Michael Heaney broke away; Flockhart was on hand in support and carried the move forward. Full back Charlie Foley looked to challenge the winger and Dougie chipped ahead, a foot race ensued with Heaney and Flockhart leading the Knights charge but the bounce of the ball fell unkindly for both however Makaafi profited. The flanker collected and had enough momentum to make it over the line and dot down for his 12th try of the 2015/16 season. Flockhart continued his fine showing with the boot to convert.
At 24-11 and little over ten minutes to play the game looked won but when the Knights were awarded another penalty shortly after the restart the squad wisely resisted the urge to chase a bonus point, instead giving Flockhart another shot at goal and the Scotsman didn’t disappoint.
With a commanding 16 point advantage the Knights were able to blow caution to the wind in the closing stages as they went in pursuit of an all-important fourth score. Having gained field position and territory through some patient build up it looked as if the Knights has spurned the opportunity with the clock ticking away but a dropped ball by centre Aaron Pinches in the Moseley 22m meant Donny would have a late scrum. A solid effort from the Knights pack secured front foot ball for replacement scrum half Sam Edgerley who took off from the base. Having drawn a number of defenders to him Edgerley then handed on to Paul Jarvis and at full tilt the full back raced away in the corner. Flockhart produced a superb touchline conversion to take the score to 34-11 and with that Andrew Jackson ended the game.
A convincing final score line for the Knights perhaps masked a couple of early errors but few will fail to have been impressed with the committed 80 minute display that now sees the Castle Park side on a six game unbeaten run and second in the division just a week off the half way point.
Knights XV; 15) Paul Jarvis, 14) Dougie Flockhart, 13) Mat Clark (Andy Bulumakau 78’), 12) Will Hurrell, 11) Tyson Lewis, 10) Dec Cusack, 9) Michael Heaney (Sam Edgerley 77’), 1) Richard List (Jack Bergmanas 73’), 2) Ben Hunter (Vili Veikoso 66’), 3) Colin Quigley (WillGriff John 66’), 4) Matt Challinor, 5) Jon Phelan, 6) Alex Shaw (Latu Makaafi 66’), 7) Michael Hills (C), 8) Ollie Stedman,
Replacements; 16) Jack Bergmanas, 17) Vili Veikoso, 18) WillGriff John, 19) Glen Young, 20) Latu Makaafi, 21) Andy Bulumakau , 22) Sam Edgerley.
Tries; Stedman 13’, Lewis 47’, Makaafi 68’, Jarvis 79’
Conv; Flockhart 13’, 47’, 68’, 79’
Pen; Flockhart 57’, 72’,
15) Charlie FOLEY, 14) Rhys WILLIAMS (Scott ARMSTRONG 46’, 13) Greg KING, 12) Aaron PINCHES, 11) Drew CHESHIRE, 10) Glyn HUGHES 9) Sam BROWN (Dave BRAZIER 65’) 1) Tom FIDLER (Tom WARREN 65’), 2) Adam CAVES 3) (Scott TOLMIE 73’) Craig VOISEY (Aaron GARDINER 65), 4) Aaron FLAGG 5) Greg CHARLTON, 6) Buster LAWRENCE, 7), Ed SIGGERY 8) Chris BRIGHTWELL ©
Replacements: 16) Tom WARREN, 17) Scott TOLMIE, 18) Aaron GARDINER, 19) Will KEENAN, 20) Tim MOLENAAR, 21) Scott ARMSTRONG, 22) Dave BRAZIER.
Tries; Brightwell 40’
Pen; Hughes 10’, 53’
Referee: Andrew Jackson