Knights put Pirates to the sword with second half rally.

Cornish Pirates 19-26 Doncaster Knights

The Knights arrived at The Mennaye knowing that a win would significantly strengthen their position within the play off places. Other results across the league had seen fellow play-off chasers Bedford and Jersey both suffer defeats whilst Carnegie had the daunting task of hosting Bristol at Headingley in a fixture that ran concurrently to the Knights own.

The reverse fixture took place in October with the Knights running out 28-11 winners at Castle Park however the hosts had enjoyed a much improved run of form and entered the clash undefeated at home in 2016.

Penzance in February often means wet, muddy conditions however this was not the case as the sun greeted the Knights even if the Cornish wind made its presence felt. Playing into the breeze the Pirates made a sprightly start and got themselves into a strong position after Doncaster gave up a penalty in midfield. Fly-half Kieran Hallett put the kick to touch but following a couple of line outs the hosts could not find a way through and carried in field. The Knights conceded another penalty which was taken quickly by Alex Day, alert defence prevented the scrum half from crossing but resulted in a Pirates scrum. Having secured possession it was sent wide by the Pirates backs who worked well to draw in defenders and create space for winger Jack Arnott to cross out wide. Hallett’s conversion dropped wide, 5-0.

The score awoke the Knights and they showed much more attacking intent following, however, some questionable decision making and handling errors cost them point-scoring opportunities with the wind at their backs. The set piece performed well throughout the game and it was from a lineout opportunity that Doncaster managed their first score. Three back to back penalties meant the home pack were given a final warning from referee Greg McDonald and having gone to the corner again the Knights established their driving maul which ended with the familiar sight of Latu Makaafi crashing over the line.

The Knights continued in the ascendancy for the remainder of the first half and started winning more and more penalties but a combination of determined home defence and indiscipline in attack saw a number of late try-scoring chances go begging. On the stroke of half time Dec Cusack stepped up and slotted a long range three-pointer after Alan Paver was pinged for a ruck offense meaning the Knights went into the break leading 8-5.

A three point lead is fragile at the best of times but playing into the wind in the second half meant that the Knights faced a huge second forty if they were to make the long journey home with a W. Buoyed by a noisy Cornish support the hosts reemerged for the second half with a real sense of purpose and subjected Doncaster to a five minute barrage of attacks. Stubborn defense stopped the Pirates from taking advantage of the purple patch and what followed probably won the game for the Knights.

A sequence of carries and offloads initiated by a post lineout break from Ben Hunter carried the Knights deep into the Pirates half. Scrambling backwards, the home defence struggled to slow down the Donny charge and after Latu Makaafi barged to within a metre of the try line Michael Heaney darted over from the base of the ruck to score. Cusack added the extras to put his side up by 10.

Doncaster continued in the ascendancy following the score and, as the game began to open up, were able to punch holes with good carries and smart offloading. Extended periods in defense lead to a number of transgressions by the Pirates and Cusack was only too happy to keep the scoreboard ticking over with a couple of on target penalty kicks; on the hour mark the Knights held a 5-21 advantage.

Sensing the game was about to run away from them entirely the Pirates upped their intensity and after a scrum penalty Hallett used the wind to his advantage to put a long, rangy penalty to touch. Another penalty was conceeded as the pack looked to drop the home drive, the Pirates went straight back to the corner and this time would not be stopped. Having raced in field they got to within a metre of the Knights try line were replacement hooker Jack Innard barged home. Hallett added the extras, 12-21.

To avoid a very nervy ending to the clash the Knights needed to ensure they were the next team to score and they delivered an impressive ten minutes of rugby, asserting themselves on the fixture ensure there was no Pirates revival. Another well-worked lineout play almost saw Ben Hunter crash through only to be brought down by Adam Jamieson with the try-line beckoning. Possession was quickly recycled in field before Heaney cleverly switched play blind and fed Michael Hills, the skipper did well to draw his defender and release Jon Phelan who was able to dive over out wide.

Credit must go to the Pirates who refused to give up and got their just rewards with a try in the final play of the game. Having recovered the ball, they forced a penalty that was taken quickly by Jack Oulton who got very close before being hauled down, in the next phase lock Tyler Gendall bundled over and Hallett’s conversion ensured a Pirates losing bonus points.

Clive Griffiths and the coaching staff will take plenty of positives from the second half performance and the victory means that there is now a nine point cushion between the Knights in second and third placed Bedford and 18 points separating the team and Nottingham in fifth.

Cornish Pirates XV; 15) Toby May, 14) Jack Arnott, 13) Tom Hendrickson, 12) Alex Dancer (Rheon James 70’), 11) Matt Evans, 10) Kieran Hallett, 9) Alex Day (Jack Oulton 70’), 1) Marlen Walker (Adam Jamieson 63’), 2) Tom Channon (Jack Innard 55’), 3) Alan Paver (Tyler Gendall 63’), 4) Will Graulich, 5) Brett Beukeboom (Marcus Garratt 55’), 6) Alex Cheesman, 7) Sam Simmons, 8) Aaron Carpenter (Matt Bolwell 55’).

Replacements; 16) Jack Innard, 17) Tyler Gendall, 18) Adam Jamieson, 19) Marcus Garratt, 20) Matt Bolwell, 21) Jack Oulton, 22) Rheon James.

Tries ; Arnett 8’, Innard 63’, Gendall 80’

Conv; Hallett 63’, 80’


Knights XV; 15) Declan Cusack, 14) Andy Bulumakau, 13) George Catchpole, 12 Will Hurrell (Bevon Armitage 75’), 11) Tyson Lewis 10) Simon Humberstone, 9) Michael Heaney (Brad Field 75’), 1) Richard List (WillGriff John 60’), 2) Ben Hunter (Ted Stagg 75’), 3) Colin Quigley (Joe Sproston 75’), 4) Matt Challinor, 5) Jon Phelan (Glen Young 75’), 6) Latu Makaafi (Will Owen 70’), 7) Michael Hills ©, 8) Alex Shaw.

Replacements; 16) Ted Stagg, 17) Joe Sproston, 18) WillGriff John, 19) Glen Young, 20) Will Owen, 21) Bevon Armitage, 22) Brad Field.

Tries; Makaafi 29’, Heaney 46’, Phelan 74’

Conv; Cusack 47’

Pens; Cusack 40’, 52’, 60’

Attendance; 1,230


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Knights pack unchanged for Pirates test.

The Knights make the 700 mile round trip to the Mennaye this weekend to face Cornish Pirates in round 17 of the Greene King IPA Championship.

The league returns to action following a break last weekend as the Knights look to build on an impressive 34-28 victory over Yorkshire Carnegie last time out.

There is no change to the pack that started in round 17 with the usual trio of List, Hunter and Quigley in the front row. Challinor and Phelan continue at lock and Latu Makaafi, Michael Hills and Alex Shaw make up the back row.

In the backs Simon Humberstone will start outside Michael Heaney at standoff, Dec Cusack moves to fullback having played the second half against Carnegie in the position following injury to Paul Jarvis. In midfield, Leicester Tigers’ 2014/15 Young Player of the Year, George Catchpole will line up alongside Will Hurrell and it is as you were out wide with Andy Bulumakau and Tyson Lewis on the wings.

Ted Stagg, Joe Sproston and WillGriff John make up the front row replacements with Glen Young and Will Owen also named on the bench. Cover for the backs is provided by Bevon Armitage and Brad Field completing the twenty-two.

Knights XV; 15) Dec Cusack, 14) Andy Bulumakau, 13) George Catchpole, 12) Will Hurrell, 11) Tyson Lewis, 10) Simon Humberstone, 9) Michael Heaney, 1) Richard List, 2) Ben Hunter, 3) Colin Quigley, 4) Matt Challinor, 5) Jon Phelan, 6) Latu Makaafi, 7) Michael Hills ©, 8) Alex Shaw.

Replacements; 16) Ted Stagg, 17) Joe Sproston, 18) WillGriff John 19) Glen Young, 20 ) Will Owen, 21) Bevon Armitage, 22) Brad Field.

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Demons in Castle Park cup clash this Sunday.

Doncaster Demons face Barnsley in the Junior Cup quarter final this Sunday at Castle Park; kick off 2pm.

The Demons face an impressive Barnsley side who boast a winning streak of twenty games heading into the clash. The Castle Park Ladies will take confidence however from the fact they were the last team to beat their South Yorkshire rivals in March 2015.

The Demons have accrued a number of victories to progress to this late stage of the competition and the fixture looks set to be an enthralling local derby and all support is welcome.

For further info on the Doncaster Demons check out their website.





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Malc Greenslade

It is with deep sadness we announce that Malc Greenslade, former Thornensians stalwart and latterly Doncaster member, passed away yesterday after a short illness. 

Malc became a keen supporter of Doncaster RFC closely following the playing careers of his sons Simon and Daniel from mini-rugby level up to the senior XVs.  We extend our deepest sympathy to his family and friends. 

Malc’s funeral will take place at 1pm this Friday (March 11th) at Fishlake Church, Club ties to be worn for those that have one.

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Heaney and Cusack confirm contract extension.

Half back pairing Michael Heaney and Declan Cusack have both agreed new contract extensions with the Club.

The new deals will see scrum half Michael Heaney continue as a Knight until, at least, the end of next season and Cusack will remain at Castle Park until the close of the 2017/18 season having signed a two year extension.

Both players signed for the club last summer and have played a pivotal part in the Knights success this season. Cusack arrived from relegated Plymouth Albion having been the only fly half to score against the Knights in the 2014/15 season and has made fourteen competitive starts for the Club to date, despite suffering a fractured eye socket in Round Two against Nottingham.

Scrum half Michael Heaney returned for his second spell at the Club when he signed from Ulster last May and quickly made the number nine shirt his own. The 25-year-old has impressed in his 18 appearances this campaign, which has also seen him step in for a handful of games at standoff due to injuries elsewhere in the squad.

Speaking following the announcements, Director of Rugby Clive Griffiths said. “We’ve seen how well both players have settled into life at Castle Park and they’ve produce some great form on the field.

“They are two quality players and will play a massive part in the end of our season along with Simon and Brad, so we are well-served in that department.

“In the truest sense of the word half backs are pivotal to a team’s success, your scrum half is the link between your backs and forwards and your ten is the quarterback that gets everything moving.

“I’m absolutely delighted to have Declan and Michael back on board, keeping the continuity of play within the squad and keeping our Paddy Power together for the future.”

Check out why Michael and Declan are delighted to be continuing as Knights on Instagram now.


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Greene King IPA Championship round 17 preview

The Knights made another resounding statement in the Greene King IPA Championship a fortnight ago and now face a Cornish Pirates side that have been extremely resilient at home.

Indeed, the Pirates have won three league games on the bounce at The Mennaye and will look to recover their form back in Cornwall after back-to-back losses on the road to London Scottish and Yorkshire Carnegie.

The Knights’ own run, however, shows no signs of slowing down – now comfortably perched in second after the success over Carnegie in round 16. Despite Michael Hills’ last minute score securing a bonus-point 34-28 victory the team still have some catching up to do with Bristol Rugby, who maintained a ten-point gap at the top after putting Ealing Trailfinders to the sword by 63-10 and face Carnegie next.

Bristol have won their last four encounters with the Yorkshiremen, but you can expect both teams to pile on the points – in that spell they’ve combined for a total of 254.

Carnegie are in third place just one point ahead of Bedford Blues, who head to a Rotherham Titans side set to embark on their first league fixture under new head coach Justin Burnell.

Burnell kicked off life at Rotherham with a 45-7 win in a rearranged British & Irish Cup fixture against Ealing, and now must arrest a seven-game losing slump in the Championship.

Bedford will be eyeing up a pick-me-up too after Jersey took away a superb victory from Goldington Road in Round 16.

With that result, Jersey cut the gap between themselves and the top four down to 11 points and will aim to pick up where they left off against London Welsh.

The Exiles however took a positive step forward of their own during the last round – following back-to-back defeats – as Josh McNally scored a try-double in a bonus-point victory over Nottingham.

Nottingham, still very much in the top four race in sixth, will aim to get back on the horse as they host London Scottish at The Bay.

And as far as Scottish are concerned, the result could make or break their season as they sit three further points behind the Green and Whites in seventh.

Last but by no means least, Moseley and Ealing take each other on in a match that is likely to go some way in deciding who will finish bottom this season.

Moseley are the team in form as a victory over Rotherham last time out – their first win in the Championship since November 6 – lifted them off last spot.

Kevin Maggs’ side have won their last four games against Ealing in all competitions – but earlier this month, the Trailfinders upset the apple cart by holding Doncaster to a draw at home.


Round 17 fixtures

Saturday 27 February

Jersey v London Welsh, kick-off 2pm

Rotherham Titans v Bedford Blues, kick-off 2pm

Ealing Trailfinders v Moseley, kick-off 3pm

Sunday 28 February

Cornish Pirates v Doncaster Knights, kick-off 3pm

Nottingham v London Scottish, kick-off 3pm Carnegie v Bristol Rugby, kick-off 3pm

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Quartet commit future to Knights.

We are delighted to announce that four of the Knights most consistent performers of recent seasons have recommitted their futures to the Club.

On-Field Captain Michael Hills, Championship leading point-scorer Dougie Flockhart and front row stalwarts Colin Quigley and Ben Hunter have all agreed new deals at Castle Park.

The foursome have been ever-presents for the Club this season highlighted by the fact that they have cumulatively featured in 84% of the Knights competitive fixtures thus far.

Speaking on the recapture of Quigley, Hills and Flockhart, Director or Rugby Clive Griffiths said. “To have one of the best tight heads, one of the best Captains and one of the best goal-kickers in the division, not only that as Dougie does a fantastic job on the conditioning side with the boys, is obviously a great news for us and they are three massive signings.”

Clive added high praise for hooker Ben Hunter and stated that he looks forward to seeing the 27-year-old continue to improve in a Knights shirt. “Ben has totally deserved another contract extension, he has worked very hard to get himself into a strong position within the team.

“His performances have also been recognized outside of Castle Park with a lot of interest shown in him from other directions but he has remained loyal to us and I am delighted to have him on board and for him to continue his rugby development at Castle Park.”

Flockhart, Hills and Hunter have all been with the Club since the National One winning 2013/14 season or before and since signing in the summer of 2014 Colin Quigley has already racked up 47 competitive appearances for the Knights and it is that experience that Griffiths is so happy to have secured. “We’ve got a great blend of youth and experience in this squad and these four definitely bring that experience to the table.

“Off the pitch they all bring difference things to the group and add to us individually, they will all alert themselves from experiences of the past and we look forward to moving things forward with these four at the helm.”

Check out the players reactions to continuing their stay at Castle Park on Instagram.

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McIlwaine makes Castle Park return

Full back David McIlwaine has signed for the remainder of the 2015/16 campaign.

We are delighted to announce the signing of former Ulster and Bristol fullback David McIlwaine until the end of the season.

The former Ireland age grade international signs for the Knights following a spell at Yorkshire Carnegie in what will be his second spell at Castle Park. The 25-year-old made 17 Championship appearances during the 2011/12 season and ended the year as the Knights top points scorer with 96 before signing for Bristol ahead of the 2012/13 campaign.

After a season in the South-West McIlwaine returned home to Ulster where he made nine appearances for the province including one in the Heineken Cup before moving to Headingley last season. McIlwane has spent this season studying and playing at Leeds Beckett University who he will continue to represent until the conclusion of their BUCS National Championship campaign. 

Speaking on McIlWaine’s signing Griff commented. “We know Dave’s well suited to Castle Park, he’s been here before, knows the Club inside out and when I got in touch with him he had no hesitation in coming down.

“Dave has to combine his training with us and Leeds Beckett University who are still in the BUCS competition and play Hartpury College a week on Wednesday in the national quarter finals.

“Once his commitments with the University have concluded he will be with us on a full time basis but in the meantime he will balance the two.

“He’s got a good kicking game and is not short of a yard or two, I know he’ll be well-suited to our game plan and style of play and I just hope he can bring all his experience to the table and help us out.”

DKTV caught up with Dave this morning to get his thoughts on returning to Castle Park.

Championship play-off dates

The weekends of the 2015/16 Greene King IPA Championship play off semi-finals and dates for the finals have been confirmed.

The play offs will kick off on the weekend of April 30th, the weekend after Round 22 of the Championship, with the Knights away at London Welsh. First faces fourth and second plays third with the higher ranked side choosing which leg to play at home.

Play off dates/kick off times.

  • Weekend of April 30th – Semi-Final Leg 1.
  • Weekend of May 7th – Semi-Final Leg 2.
  • Wednesday 18th May – Final Leg 1 – 19:45 kick off
  • Wednesday 25th May – Final Leg 2 – 19:45 kick off

With six games to go the Knights hold a 17 point advantage over fifth placed Jersey in the Championship standings.

Speaking to the Doncaster Free Press last week DoR Clive Griffiths stated that “I think the top four is probably decided,” and that “I know you can never say never but the only thing which can realistically affect our chances now is a glut of injuries.” There are few better qualified to make such assessments as the Knights enjoyed a well-earned week off.

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Support Phoenix at Castle Park this Saturday.

With the Knights enjoying a hard-earned weekend off, Castle Park’s very own Doncaster Phoenix have a pivotal game in their bid to secure a second consecutive promotion and league title.

Phoenix welcome West Hartlepool to South Yorkshire for a 14:15 kick off as first takes on third at the top of North East One.

Ahead of the game DRFC Rugby Development Manager Ants Posa reflected on a good win over Driffield last Saturday as well as discussing what his charges might expect this weekend and the end of season run in.


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DRFC retains RFU Club Accreditation.

We are pleased to say, that after much hard work, in particular by DRFC Community Rugby Manager, Lisa Davis, that Doncaster RFC has been reaccredited with the RFU Club Accreditation status.

RFU Club Accreditation was set up to provide a framework to help clubs become stronger, more effective and more enjoyable places to play rugby. It assesses the Club on a variety of criteria (listed below) and is another endorsement of the hard work the various branches of DRFC do and we would like to thank the vast array of volunteers for the time and hard work they have put into this great Club to aid this reaccreditation.

About Accreditation

The RFU recognises that Club rugby lies at the heart of rugby in England. It is where the game is played in huge numbers and it is the environment that the RFU Development Department is committed to supporting by ‘strengthening clubs and growing the game in the communities around them’. Part of this commitment is to introduce a new Club Accreditation scheme that will help all club sections to become stronger, more effective, more efficient and more enjoyable places in which to play rugby. Unlike other accreditation schemes, this one provides a framework for a club to show what it is doing, how it does it, and where it can improve.

The Club Accreditation scheme is based upon the six Key Drivers identified as crucial to a strong club:

  • Retaining & Developing Players
  • Recruiting New Players
  • Recruiting & Retaining High Quality Coaches, Volunteers & Referees
  • Effective & Efficient Facilities
  • Effective & Efficient Management and Governance
  • Integration with the Local Community
  • To retain our Accredited Club status we will be expected to undertake an annual self-review, with a more formal review with the RDO every two years. This process will form part of the club’s annual development planning process.
  • Each of these Key Drivers, together with the Core Values of the game, is represented within the Club Accreditation scheme and together they represent the component parts of a strong, sustainable club.
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