Knights side named for New Year opener.

The Knights kick off 2016 on Saturday with a second trip of the season to the Island of Jersey.

Jersey are the last side to prevent the Knights from winning when the teams played out a 22-22 draw in November in the British and Irish Cup.

Griff and the coaching staff name a familiar looking side for the clash with just one change to the starting XV that defeated Nottingham at Castle Park on Boxing Day.

Ollie Stedman is promoted from the bench to swap with Latu Makaafi in what is the sole change to the squad.

On the bench Joe Sproston is recalled to the match day 22 and Simon Humberstone will hope to end his wait for a first Knights Championship appearance.

Starting XV

15. Paul Jarvis
14. Douglas Flockhart
13. Mat Clark
12. Will Hurrell
11. Tyson Lewis
10. Declan Cusack
9. Michael Heaney

1. Richard List
2. Ben Hunter
3. Colin Quigley
4. Jon Phelan
5. Matt Challinor
6. Alex Shaw
7. Michael Hills (c)
8. Ollie Stedman

Replacements:
16. Joe Sproston, 17. WillGriff John, 18. Villiame Veikoso, 19. Tyler Hotson, 20. Latu Makaafi, 21. Sam Edgerley, 22. Simon Humberstone

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Knights squad announced for New Year opener.

The Knights kick off 2016 on Saturday with a second trip of the season to the Island of Jersey.

Jersey are the last side to prevent the Knights from winning when the teams played out a 22-22 draw in November in the British and Irish Cup.

Griff and the coaching staff name a familiar looking side for the clash with just one change to the starting XV that defeated Nottingham at Castle Park on Boxing Day.

Ollie Stedman is promoted from the bench to swap with Latu Makaafi in what is the sole change to the squad.

On the bench Joe Sproston is recalled to the match day 22 and Simon Humberstone will hope to end his wait for a first Knights Championship appearance.

Starting XV

15. Paul Jarvis
14. Douglas Flockhart
13. Mat Clark
12. Will Hurrell
11. Tyson Lewis
10. Declan Cusack
9. Michael Heaney

1. Richard List
2. Ben Hunter
3. Colin Quigley
4. Jon Phelan
5. Matt Challinor
6. Alex Shaw
7. Michael Hills (c)
8. Ollie Stedman

Replacements:
16. Joe Sproston, 17. WillGriff John, 18. Villiame Veikoso, 19. Tyler Hotson, 20. Latu Makaafi, 21. Sam Edgerley, 22. Simon Humberstone

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Knights topple Notts to end the year sky high.

The Knights extended their unbeaten run to ten games in all competition as they dispatched Northern Championship rivals Nottingham 26-12 at Castle Park.

Second half tries from Tyson Lewis and Ollie Stedman secures victory for Griff’s charges in front of season high crowd of 2,921.

Doncaster versus Nottingham fixtures are usually hard-fought affairs and prior to this season the Green and Whites have enjoyed a favourable head to head record and the fixture certainly started tight enough. Despite enjoying the majority of possession and territory the Knights lacked a clinical touch at key points in the first half and were unable to pull away from a Nottingham side who defended hard and took their chances.

Dougie Flockhart opened the scoring after nine minutes as the Knights pack utilized their driving maul, which performed impressively all afternoon, and drew a foul from the opposing eight. Flockhart calmly struck his first of four successful first half penalties to put his side ahead.

The Nottingham response was swift, if a little unexpected. Miscommunication at the restart from the Knights saw the ball knocked forward and a scrum awarded to the visitors in the Donny 22m and under heavy pressure number Paul Grant was able to get the ball away. The Notts midfield carried powerfully before the ball was spun to lively winger Pila Longi who, with little room to manoeuvre, finished well. Dan Mugford was unable to add the extras.

The rest of the half went the Knights way; aided by a dominant performance at the set piece. The scrum enjoyed the upper hand throughout the game and the line out was a near constant source of front foot possession but despite this the Knights could not breach the Nottingham try line. Whilst resilient, the visiting defence often fell afoul of referee Matt O’Grady’s whistle, allowing Flockhart to keep the scoreboard ticking over and with half time looming the Knights lead 12-5.

Following a successful Flockhart three pointer on 38 minutes Nottingham were gifted an opportunity to reduce the gap as the Knights faltered again at the restart. Latu Makaafi made a powerful carry from his own 22m but Donny could not retain possession on the floor and Notts were awarded the scrum. In the dying seconds of the first half the Green and Whites lay siege to the Knights try line but could not find a way through so the sides headed back to the changing rooms with Doncaster up by seven.

The half time team talk seemed to do the trick for the Knights as they came out firing in the second forty, creating a handful of chances shortly after the resumption. Mat Clark and Tyson Lewis both went very close with nice running lines but frantic Nottingham defence held out on both occasions.

The Knights would not have to wait much longer for the opening score however.

Cutting off his wing Dougie Flockhart made an impressive break in midfield, carrying possession deep into the visiting half. In the following phase the ball was put wide and Tyson Lewis did very well stay in bounds and touch down under heavy defensive pressure. Flockhart produced a remarkable conversion from the touchline and the Knights had some breathing space.

As clichéd as it might be, the next score was always going to be crucial to the outcome, so when replacement back row Ollie Stedman bundled over at the back of another driving line out just moments after entering the game it as good as sealed the win for the Knights. Flockhart ensure a seven point score with another accurate nudge; 26-5 with under twenty minutes left to play.

Despite the score line Nottingham refused to roll over. Paul Grant carry barged his way through some rather halfhearted challenges allowing the visitors came forward at pace. The Knights scrambled to stop the number eight but left themselves very thin out wide and Ben Woods was more than happy to accept the invitation to pounce through a gap in the line and score. Mugford converted and all of a sudden the result didn’t seem the certainty it was moments earlier.

The closing stages brought chances for both sides but no further scores meaning the Knights collected four points which saw them finish the day level at the top of the Championship! The celebrations continued for several hours post kick off under the De Mulder Lloyd stand concourse, next up is Jersey away on January 2nd.

Knights XV; 15) Paul Jarvis, 14) Dougie Flockhart, 13) Mat Clark (Andy Bulumakau 6, 12) Will Hurrell, 11) Tyson Lewis, 10) Dec Cusack, 9) Michael Heaney, 1) Rich List, 2) Ben Hunter (Vili Veikoso 63’), 3) Colin Quigley, 4) Matt Challinor, 5) Jon Phelan (Tyler Hotson 74’), 6) Latu Makaafi (Ollie Stedman 54’), 7) Michael Hills ©, 8) Alex Shaw.

Replacements; 16) Vili Veikoso, 17) Ollie Stedman, 18) WillGriff John, 19) Tyler Hotson, 20) Simon Humberstone, 21) Andy Bulumakau, 22) Sam Edgerley.

Tries; Lewis 54’, Stedman 61’

Conv; Flockhart 54’, 61’

Pens; Flockhart 9’, 20’, 27’, 38’

Nottingham XV; 15) Billy Robinson, 14) Sam Coghlan Murray, 13) Ben Woods, 12) Heath Stevens, 11) Pila Iongi, 10) Dan Mugford (Lawrence Rayner 68’), 9) Darryl Veenendaal, 1) Kieran Davies, 2) Jack Singleton, 3) Conor Carey (Tom Heard 61’), 4) Ben Morris, 5) Joe Green, 6) Rupert Cooper (Rob Langley 55’), 7) Matt Everard (C), 8) Paul Grant

Replacements; 16) JJ Broberg, 17) Harry Morley, 18) Tom Heard, 19) Andrew Kitchener, 20) Rob Langley, 21) Murray McConnell, 22) Lawrence Rayner

Tries; Longi 12’, Woods 61’

Conv; Mugford 61’

Pens;

Referee: Matt O’Grady

Attendance: 2,921

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Shaw ready for Nottingham renewal.

Knights back rower Alex Shaw is set to start in the six jersey on Saturday as he goes head to head with his former teammates.

Shaw made over 100 appearances for the Green and Whites but is now a committed Knight and believes his side head into the game with ideal preparation and form. “The fact is that we’re playing very well at the moment, we’ve got a few lads who are back from injury which heightens competition for places within the squad which only makes us better so we’re really excited and looking forward to it.

“In the back row everyone is getting rotated and getting a shot but when everyone is fit the competition is very high and we are all just trying to play as well as we can and give the coaches selection headaches.

“It’s quite a strange situation with Nottingham, I was there for a long time but in the last two year about 90% of the squad has completely and utterly changed. There are a handful of players there from my time and I am looking forward to getting stuck into them on Saturday.

“I think we’re quite similar teams, so we’re expecting it to be a close one. They have a very good fly half in Dan Mugford and ever since he’s been back from injury their results have been good. Their pack are generally quite dominant and puts them on the front foot and their backs looks exciting when they get chance to attack.”

Whilst there is plenty for Knights fans to celebrate this Christmas Alex insists the Knights squad and staff have their feet firmly planted to the ground and know that there is still plenty of work to do, starting Saturday. “Even though we’re at Christmas, it is only the half way point so in terms of league position and points available there is still an awful long way to go.

“The Championship is always one of those leagues where it is very condensed and teams that are maybe in the middle of the pack right now will emerge in the second half and I don’t think you can look beyond a week or two ahead because if you start getting to far ahead of yourself and don’t focus on the next job you’ll get caught out.”

Alex ended by wishes all fans a great day tomorrow. “Merry Christmas to all, look forward to seeing and hearing you on Saturday.”

Kick off on boxing day is at 14:30, with a social fixture on pitch two at 12noon, tickets are buy one get one half price and kids go free in all stands.

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Knights side named for Boxing Day clash.

The Knights side has been named for Saturday’s Boxing Day Clash with Nottingham.

Clive Griffiths and the coaching team name a familiar fifteen for Saturday’s fixture at Castle Park. Paul Jarvis returns to the squad having sat out last weekend’s victory over Newport Gwent Dragons Premiership Select XV with Dougie Flockhart and Tyson Lewis resuming their positions on the wing. Mat Clark and Will Hurrell shift in field at centre to line up alongside one another inside a half back combination of Dec Cusack and Michael Heaney.

Richard List, Ben Hunter and Colin Quigley start at front row with Matt Challinor and Jon Phelan back in the four and five jerseys. The Championship’s leading try-scorer Latu Makaafi starts at blindside with Michael Hills captaining the team at openside and Alex Shaw at eight.

It is a four, three forwards/backs split on the bench with Simon Humberstone hoping to make his Knights Championship debut having made his first competitive appearance from the bench last weekend.

Knights XV; 15) Paul Jarvis, 14) Dougie Flockhart, 13) Mat Clark, 12) Will Hurrell, 11) Tyson Lewis, 10) Dec Cusack, 9) Michael Heaney, 1) Rich List, 2) Ben Hunter, 3) Colin Quigley, 4) Matt Challinor, 5) Jon Phelan, 6) Latu Makaafi, 7) Michael Hills ©, 8) Alex Shaw.

Replacements; 16) Vili Veikoso, 17) Ollie Stedman, 18) WillGriff John, 19) Tyler Hotson, 20) Simon Humberstone, 21) Andy Bulumakau, 22) Sam Edgerley.

Kick off on Saturday is at 14:30. #COYK

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Boxing Day ticket deals at Castle Park.

Take advantage of our Boxing Day ticket offers and continue the festive celebrations as the Knights take on Nottingham.

We are offering buy one get one half price on all tickets for the game with kids going free in all stands.

Whilst the Knights will take the centre stage from 14:30 there is full day of activity planned. Firstly, Doncaster Phoenix are hosting a social fixture on Pitch two as the Young Guns (under 21s) take on the Old Guard (over 30s) from 12noon. For those wishing to watch what will undoubtedly be an entertaining (amusing) social fixture you can also take advantage of half price entry prices if purchased before noon; entry valid for both the Phoenix and Knights fixture.

In the Clubhouse suite of the De Mulder Lloyd stand we have our DRFC supporter lunch, Janet and the team are cooking up a warming curry to make sure all supporters fueled and ready for eighty minutes of vocal support…there will, of course, be a Cow Pie alternative for the traditionalists. This will be followed by a selection of desserts with fruit compote and cream all for a price of just £14, which includes one of our expertly written match day programmes! There are only a handful of places remaining so be sure to book ahead to avoid disappointment by calling 01302 831388 or emailing randerson@castle-park.co.uk.

Post-game entertainment should be plentiful as we encourage fans to take centre stage and show off any hidden vocal talents. Castle Park Karaoke will take place in the Concourse of the De Mulder Lloyd stand following the post-match presentations and will, hopefully, continue late into the night.

We wish all a Merry Christmas and look forward to seeing you on Boxing Day!

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Griff agrees to extend stay at Castle Park.

Today we are delighted to announce that Director of Rugby Clive Griffiths has agreed terms to stay with the Club until, at least, the end of the 2017/18 season.

The announcement comes with the Knights heading towards the year end on a run of nine games unbeaten, sitting second in the Greene King IPA Championship and top of Pool Five in the British and Irish Cup.

Clive returned for his second spell in charge of the Club in late 2012 and this new deal will see the former Wales Defence Coach extend his Knights tenure to over five years; creating a stability rarely seen in modern professional sport.

Speaking on the announcement Club President Tony De Mulder expressed his happiness that Clive had put pen to paper. “We are really pleased to announce that Clive has agreed to a new two year contract with Doncaster Knights and wish him every success for the future.

“As I said in The Rugby Paper last week, the history of team sports has shown that the long term continuity of management, coaching and the nucleus of players is essential to the success of any team.

“In Clive Griffiths, with his vast experience in the top flight of rugby, we have someone who offers that long term management and coaching ability.”

Clive, who has overseen the Knights side in over 130 competitive fixtures, stated that signing the new deal was an easy decision to make and is now looking forward to continuing his good work in the 2015/16 campaign and beyond with the backing of all at DRFC. “I am absolutely delighted to continue my association with Doncaster Knights; a Club that has given me some very special occasions and memories over the years.”

Griff went on to say “I would like to thank everyone for keeping faith in me and the loyal support shown both on and off the playing field – these were the overriding factors that contributed to my decision to remain at Castle Park. “We are growing steadily again and with the current spirit and work ethic at the Club, there is great optimism for the future.”

We hope to see many Knights fans join us on Boxing Day, as Clive’s charges do battle with Nottingham at Castle Park; gates open from 12 noon.

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Knights raid Dragons den.

Newport Gwent Dragons Premiership Select XV 17 v Doncaster Knights Match 49

Having ground out an attritional 21-16 victory at Castle Park the weekend previous the Knights travelled to the Dragons Centre for Sporting Excellence, Ystrad Mynach, for the rematch. The win from round three saw the Knights usurp the Dragons at the top of Pool five so the day’s result would be crucial in determining who would progress to the knock out stages; even with two more pool fixtures remaining in the New Year.

The game was originally scheduled to be played at Bedwas RFC but due to the adverse recent weather conditions in the area the fixture was moved to Ystrad Mynach and played on an all-weather surface. On the plastic surface the Knights started brightly and attacked having gained possession from the kick off however some indiscipline brought the move to an end and shortly after the hosts opened the scoring with a long range penalty from the boot of Angus O’Brien.

The penalty was the first and only score the Dragons would register in the first half as the hosts were subject to a Donny onslaught in what was a fine opening forty from the Knights. Bevon Armitage and Andy Bulumakau seemed to enjoy playing alongside one another in midfield and made several impressive contributions in both attack and defence with Armitage deserving plenty of credit for the game’s opening score. After Jon Phelan stole a Dragons lineout in the home 22m the centre produced a scything carry to cut through the Welsh defences before releasing a well-timed pass for winger Mat Clark to collect and gallop home, Cusack added a the extra two with smart conversion.

The Knights soon doubled their advantage after the hosts pulled down Jon Phelan at a line out on half way, Dec Cusack stuck the penalty deep into the home 22m from which the Knights produced a text book attacking maul. Latu Makaafi moved himself into position and took control of possession, as the forwards edged closer to the line the flanker pounced to claim his first of two tries; Cusack was on the money once again with the extra points.

As the half progressed the Knights continued to look bright and, despite the rain, were happy to play with width and pace, continuing to create opportunities with wingers Clark and Will Hurrell making a menace of themselves out wide. It was Clark who registered the Knights third, just after the half hour mark from another well-formed line out. With possession secured on the floor the powerful runner cut off his wing and hit a line on the blind side before wriggling through a couple of challenges and dotting down. Cusack made it three from three with a well-executed conversion from the touch line, home flanker James Benjamin was also yellow carded after the score for collapsing the driving maul.

With ten minutes left to play in the half the Knights really hit top gear and almost scored the bonus point try moments later as Andy Bulumakau demonstrated his elusive evasion skills to break down the wing and release Sam Edgerley. The full back put his foot down and raced over but unfortunately play was brought back for crossing. The fourth try was secured before the interval though and it was that man Makaafi once again. Following a period of nice attacking play the flanker collected to power over from five metres for his 16th try of the season. Cusack’s conversion made it 3-28 as the sides headed in for the break.

The Knights held a convincing lead at half time but ended up having to dig in defensively to hold on following a much improved second half display from the Dragons and that threatened to be the case again. A revitalized looking home side emerged for the start of the second half and within five minutes of the resumption had added to their total. Having broken down field it looked as if the danger had passed as they coughed up possession close to the Knights line but a Donny knock on, on the floor gave the hosts a scrum 5m out. Over eagerness in the Knights pack meant the Dragons had a free kick which Luc jones tapped quickly and after couple of pick and go carries flanker James Benjamin barged his way over the line. O’Brien added the conversion but the Knights had no intention of letting Newport back into the game. A nice starter move from a midfield line out put Clark through a gap, the winger was brought down but in the next play possession was put wide and Will Hurrell very nearly scored in the corner. Penalty advantage was awarded Doncaster’s way and Cusack sent a well-weighted chip towards Clark who rose well but received a midair challenge George Gasson who was yellow carded for the offense. The Knights went to the corner with the subsequent penalty and, after some suspect maul tactics from the home pack, referee Sean Gallagher awarded a penalty try.

The Knights next score was a joy to watch. With play broken up in midfield Cusack looked to move the ball wide and found Bevon Armitage who continued the move forward before handing on to Sam Edgerley. The full back produced an outrageous hand off to floor Aaron Warren pass back to Bevon Armitage who put Andy Bulumakau through a gap to score. Cusack’s conversion made the score 42-10 in the Knights favour and the Knights coaching staff rang the changes for the final quarter.

Despite the score line Newport continued to attack and got a reward on 65 minutes when Benjamin touched down for his second score of the game. Having won a scrum penalty the Dragons began to build phase play in the Knights 22m and the openside hit a line at pace to carry himself over the line under challenge from a couple of Donny tacklers.

With the full time whistle looming the Knights produced one final scoring attack. Spotting a gap in the back field scrum half Michael Heaney produced a perfectly-weighted chip ahead that replacement winger Tyson Lewis gladly chased down, collected and scored from. On his first competitive game in a Knights shirt Simon Humberstone closed the fixture with a lovely conversion from the touch line to take the full time score to 49-17.

A huge thanks must go to the tens of fans that made the trip down to South Wales and behalf of all at the Knights, Merry Christmas – see you on Boxing Day!

Dragons XV; 15) Geraint Rhys Jones, 14) Aaron Warren (Connor Edwards 64’), 13) Aled Brew, 12) Barney Nightingale (Arwel Robson 60’), 11) George Gasson, 10) Angus O’Brien, 9) Luc Jones (Owen Davies 67 ’), 1) Luke Garrett (Richard Cornock 73’), 2) Hugh Gustafson © (Ellis Shipp 73’), 3) Leon Brown (Alex Jeffries 53’), 4) Scott Andrews, 5) Adam Brown (Ashley Sweet 70’) 6) Josh Skinner, 7) James Benjamin, 8)Harrison Keddie.

Replacements: 16) Ellis Shipp, 17) Richard Cornock, 18) Alex Jeffries, 19) Ashley Sweet, 20) Owen Davies, 21) Arwel Robson, 22) Connor Edwards.

Tries; Benjamin 44’, 65’

Con; O’Brien 44’, 65’

Pens; O’Brien 8’

Sin bin; Benjamin 32’, Gasson 52’

Knights XV; 15) Sam Edgerley, 14) Mat Clark, 13) Andy Bulumakau, 12) Bevon Armitage, 11) Will Hurrell (Tyson Lewis 65’’), 10) Dec Cusack (Simon Humberstone 65’), 9) Michael Heaney, 1) Rich List (Joe Sproston 55’), 2) Ted Stagg, 3) Colin Quigley (WillGriff 55’), 4) Tyler Hotson, 5) Jon Phelan, 6) Latu Makaafi, 7) Michael Hills (C), 8) Ollie Stedman (Alex Shaw 27’) (Matt Challinor 65’)

Replacements; 16) Ben Hunter, 17) Joe Sproston, 18) WillGriff John, 19) Matt Challinor, 20) Alex Shaw, 21) Simon Humberstone, 22) Tyson Lewis.

Tries; Clark 10’ & 28’, Makaafi 16’, 36’ Penalty 50’, Bulumakau 55’, Lewis 78’

Con; Cusack 10’, 16’, 28’, 36’, 50’ & 56’, Humberstone 79’

Pens;

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Side named for Dragons duel.

The Knights make a number changes, both in personnel and position, to the squad that successfully defeated Newport Gwent Dragons Premiership Select XV last Saturday as they head to Wales for tomorrow’s rematch.

Bevon Armitage makes his return to the match day squad having been sidelined with a bicep injury since September’s clash versus Jersey at Castle Park; Bevon partners Andy Bulumakau in midfield. Elsewhere Sam Edgerley shifts from scrum half to full back with Mat Clark and Will Hurrell starting on either wing. Michael Heaney and Dec Cusack cut a familiar pairing in the half backs.

In the pack Ted Stagg makes his first Knights start since October’s trip Headingley with Rich List and Colin Quigley continuing at prop. It’s an all-Canadian affair in the second row with starts for Tyler Hotson and Jon Phelan and the back row includes Latu Makaafi, Michael Hills and Ollie Stedman.

The big news on the bench is the inclusion of standoff Simon Humberstone who will be hoping to make his first competitive appearance for the Club since signing at Castle Park in the summer. The former Cardiff Blues man picked up a shoulder injury in the Knights pre-season opener versus Hull RUFC.

Kick off tomorrow is at 15:00 at the revised venue of CCB Centre for Sporting Excellence, Ystrad Mynach. For those not making the trip live text commentary will be available on twitter.com/doncasterknight.

Knights XV; 15) Sam Edgerley, 14) Mat Clark, 13) Andy Bulumakau, 12) Bevon Armitage, 11) Will Hurrell, 10) Dec Cusack, 9) Michael Heaney, 1) Rich List, 2) Ted Stagg, 3) Colin Quigley, 4) Tyler Hotson, 5) Jon Phelan, 6) Latu Makaafi, 7) Michael Hills (C), 8) Ollie Stedman

Replacements; 16) Ben Hunter, 17) Joe Sproston, 18) WillGriff John, 19) Matt Challinor, 20) Alex Shaw, 21) Simon Humberstone, 22) Tyson Lewis.

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Venue change for Dragons clash.

Saturday’s British and Irish Cup round four clash with Newport Gwent Dragons Premiership Select XV will now be played at CCB Centre for Sporting Excellence, Ystrad Mynach.

Due to the recent adverse weather conditions in South Wales a decision was made late last night that the Bedwas Rugby Club playing surface is unplayable. The CCB Centre is the training ground of the Newport Gwent Dragons and boasts an all-weather 3G pitch on which the fixture will now be played.

The after match function will take place at Bedwas RFC where refreshments will be available, Ystard Mynach is just nine minutes away from Bedwas RFC. All other details about the fixture remain the same and the supporters’ coach organizing team have been made aware. For those making their own travel arrangements for the game the CCB Centre for Sporting Excellence post code for the venue is – CF82 7EP.

 

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