Knights side to face Mose under the lights named.

The side charged with bouncing back from Sunday’s defeat has been named as the Knights travel to Billesley Common to face Moseley tomorrow evening.

In what has been a quick turnaround for the Knights squad and staff they travel to Birmingham with a changed twenty-two from the one that lost out so narrowly versus the league leaders.

Up front Tiziano Pasquali returns from Welford Road to replace WillGriff John at tight head prop with the rest of the tight five staying the same. Glen Young is awarded starting berth on the blind side flank as Latu Makaafi recovers from a head knock; skipper Michael Hills and number eight Alex Shaw complete the back row.

At scrum half Michael Heaney lines up inside Ollie Bryant as Dec Cusack shifts to full back in place of Dave McIlwaine who picked up an ankle concern during Sunday’s game. There is no change to the midfield or wings with Tyson Lewis looking to build on his Man of the Match winning 100th appearance.

On the bench, young propping duo Joe Sproston and Riccardo Brugnara are included alongside Vili Veikoso whilst Tyler Hotson provides further cover to the pack. The Knights go with three backs on the bench with Bevon Armitage accompanying Brad Field and player coach Paul Cooke who may well make his union debut having been an unused sub on Sunday.

Kick off tomorrow evening is at 19:30 and, as ever, full twitter commentary is provided @DoncasterKnight.

Knights: 15) Dec Cusack; 14) Andy Bulumakau, 13) Mat Clark, 12) Will Hurrell, 11) Tyson Lewis; 10) Ollie Bryant, 9) Michael Heaney; 1) Rich List, 2) Ben Hunter, 3) Tiz Pasquali, 4) Matt Challinor, 5) Jon Phelan, 6) Glen Young, 7) Michael Hills (c), 8) Alex Shaw.

Replacements; 16) Vili Veikoso, 17) Joe Sproston, 18) Riccardo Brugnara, 19) Tyler Hotson, 20) Paul Cooke, 21) Bevon Armitage 22) Brad Field.

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WillGriff on board for another season.

23-year-old prop forward WillGriff John has committed his future to the Knights as he re-signs for the 2016/17 season.

The announcement comes after the Welshman made a try-scoring first Championship start of the season versus Bristol on Sunday for what was his second try in as many league matches having touched down versus London Scottish earlier this month.

The powerful, ball-carrying prop signed for the Knights in November 2014 and has played a crucial role in the side’s successful season to date having made 24 appearances already this term; including five starts.

WillGriff is capable on both sides of the scrum adding versatility to his repertoire and Director of Rugby Clive Griffiths spoke to DKTV stating how delighted he is to be extending the youngsters stay at Castle Park.

 

Watch WillGriff’s reaction to re-signing with the Knights on Instagram here.

Image by Ickledot.

Stoppage time winner sinks Knights.

Knights 29 v 31 Bristol.

The Knights came agonizingly close to completing a historic double over league-leaders Bristol at Castle Park only to be foiled in the sixth minute of added time as former England international winger Tom Varndell went over for the match winning score at the death.

Donny led for the vast majority of a scintillating affair in front of a bumper crowd and the Sky Sports cameras but had to settle for two bonus points in agonizing fashion. On his 100th game for the Club Tyson Lewis set pulses racing with a two tries in the opening 25 minutes but Andy Robinson’s all-star cast refused to roll over and strengthened their grip on the Championship top spot.

The game started at a frantic pace with the Bristol backs keen to run to ball, they were met by a wall of blue, red and white with Mat Clark and Will making their presence felt in midfield early on with some thumping hits. Over eagerness gave Gavin Henson an early chance to go at goal but the former British Lion missed his penalty attempt in a shaky first half kicking performance.

Whilst the visitors may have had more of the early possession the Knights looked threatening when they were able to spin phases together, Andy Bulumakau was a constant menace when he carried to the line and the pack made inroads with continuous, solid work in the tight. Gaps began to appear and when the ball went wide Tyson with space ahead of him the winger produced a phenomenal finish. At full tilt Lewis left two in his wake to cut in off his wing and charge over putting the Knights 5-0 to the good.

Bristol were given an opportunity to reduce their arrears shortly after however Henson fluffed what looked a relatively simple penalty and the Knights made it pay. Under pressure Bulumakau gambled and intercepted a stray pass just outside his own 22m, support came in the form of Mat Clark who continued the move before it was put wide to Lewis. The winger gave all in the stadium a reminder of his blistering pace as he put his foot down to finish, Dec Cusack added the extras and the Knights were in the box seat.

Since the Knights triumphed at Ashton Gate in November Bristol haven’t lost in the Championship and there is good reason for that, a reaction was expected and it came. From the restart the visitors produced wave after wave of attacks and forced a penalty out of the home defence which Henson pinged to the corner. A well-formed driving maul was quickly established which resulted in flanker Ollie Robinson touching down, Henson dispatched the conversion.

A second Bristol score came almost immediately after the first. Having won a scrum deep in the Knights 22m Nick Carpenter carried to within an inch of the line before Will Cliff darted from the base of the ruck to score. The conversion was good and Bristol led for the first time.

The signs looked ominous for the Knights as momentum was, seemingly, well with visitors and the twelve point advantage they held just minutes earlier had disappeared. However, the Knights don’t understand what giving up is and rallied once more just before the half. Hot pursuit in defence forced a hurried clearance kick out of Varndell which set up an attacking home lineout, a maul was established but well stopped so Donny brought the ball in field through Will Hurrell. The centre got to within a couple of metres of the try line and at the next phase WillGriff John collected at first receiver and charged under the posts under heavy coverage. Referee Luke Pearce made use of the television match official and the try was awarded to regather the home lead on the stroke of half time.

The second half began with exactly the same intensity that the first finished, both sides showed complete commitment to every attack and tackle and it was the Knights who struck next. A solid scrummaging effort forced a penalty which Dec Cusack successfully navigated through the uprights, 22-14.

Unfortunately the advantage was short lived and the scrum went from hero to villain as the home pack lost out on their own scrum ball deep in their 22m. The visitors quickly transitioned from defence to attack to put the ball through hands with winger Jack Wallace profiting out wide.

After the try, the half settled with Bristol generally on top of possession but the Knights stout defence meeting them at every turn. Having spent minutes camped on their own line the Knights forced a penalty on the floor through good work from Ben Hunter and Michael Hills which allowed Cusack to clear to touch. A Latu Makaafi carry moved Donny further down field before a penalty was awarded and put to the corner. Looking to utilize their driving maul the Knights forwards quickly moved into formation but were unable to push back the Bris defence, Michael Heaney splintered off trying to weave his way through defenders before offloading to Matt Challinor who took a more direct approach. From short range the lock is a difficult man to stop and he fought his way home for the bonus point try. Cusack’s successful conversion meant the Knights held a 29-19 with less than twenty minutes to play.

The away response was swift and Bristol hit back almost immediately, impressive attacking rugby saw the visitors link phases together with frightening speed to open a gap that Will Cliff finished down the right wing. Full back Matt Morgan took over kicking duties and successfully added the conversion.

The closing stage were unsurprisingly tense, time and time again the Knights defence thwarted the visitors attacking efforts and it seemed as if they had done enough as the clocked ticked past 80 however play was allowed to continue. After what seemed like an eternity a post scrum carry from Henson saw the fly half stopped very close to the try line and quickly recycled ball found space out wide for Varndell to dot down; the conversion fell wide but it mattered not.

A heartbreaking end to a fantastic game of rugby for the home faithful but the Knights can take solace from the fact they match their illustrious opponents in every departments for the duration of a fascinating contest.

Knights: David McIlwaine; Andy Bulumakau, Mat Clark, Will Hurrell, Tyson Lewis; Dec Cusack, Michael Heaney; Rich List, Ben Hunter, WillGriff John, Matt Challinor, Jon Phelan, Latu Makaafi, Michael Hills (c), Alex Shaw.

Replacements; Vili Veikoso (for Ben Hunter, 66 mins), Joe Sproston (for Richard List, 66 mins), Jake Armstrong (for Willgriff John, 63 mins), Glen Young (for Latu Makaafi, 80 mins), Paul Cooke, Bevon Armitage, Brad Field.

Tries; Lewis 14’ 23’, John 40’, Challinor 62’

Conv; Cusack 23’, 40’, 63’

Pens; Cusack 43’

Bristol: Jack Wallace; Tom Varndell, Jack Tovey, Nick Carpenter, David Lemi (c); Gavin Henson, Will Cliff; Jack O’Connell, Marc Jones, Anthony Perenise, Ian Evans, Ben Glynn, Marco Mama, Ollie Robinson, Mitch Eadie.

Replacements: Ross McMillan (for Marc Jones, 73 mins), Kyle Traynor (for Jack O’Connell, 42 mins), Gaston Cortes (for Anthony Perenise, 58 mins), Joe Joyce, Rayn Smid, Martin Roberts, Matthew Morgan (for Jack Wallace, 51 mins).

Tries; Robinson 29’, Cliff 35’ 66’, Wallace 47’, Varndell 80’

Conv; Henson 29’ 35’, Morgan 66’

Pens;

Referee: Luke Pearce

Attendance: 3,223

Image by Ickledot.

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Knights side named for Bristol battle.

Full back Dave McIlwaine will make his first start since rejoining the Knights last month against his former Club Bristol this Sunday.

The Northern Irishman lines up in an otherwise familiar looking back line as we welcome the league leaders to Castle Park.

On the left wing Tyson Lewis will make his 100th appearance for the Club with Andy Bulumakau on the right hand side and a midfield of Will Hurrell and Mat Clark. Dec Cusack gets the nod at standoff outside Michael Heaney.

Upfront WillGriff John joins Richard List and Ben Hunter in the front row as Colin Quigley continues his recovery from a shoulder strain and is the only change to the pack that secured playoff berth versus London Scottish in the last round of Championship action.

On the bench Jake Armstrong is included in a match day squad for the first time since injuring his shoulder versus Jersey in the British and Irish Cup in November having featured impressed on loan with Loughborough Students. Armstrong accompanies Joe Sproston and Vili Veikoso as the front row replacements. Tyler Hotson and Glen Young will hope to make an impact from the bench with Bevon Armitage and Brad Field completing the twenty-two.

Remember it is an early kick off this Sunday, 13:45. COYK.

15 David McIlwaine, 14) Andy Bulumakau, 13) Mat Clark, 12) Will Hurrell, Tyson Lewis, 10) Dec Cusack, 9) Michael Heaney, 1) Rich List, 2) Ben Hunter, 3) WillGriff John, 4) Matt Challinor, 5) Jon Phelan, 6) Latu Makaafi, 7) Michael Hills ©, 8) Alex Shaw.

Replacements; 16) Vili Veikoso, 17) Joe Sproston, 18) Jake Armstrong, 19) Tyler Hotson, 20) Glen Young, 21) Bevon Armitage, 22) Brad Field.

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DRFC Girls Bake Sale.

The DRFC Girls section will be holding a Bake Sale under the concourse during Sunday’s game with all proceeds being evenly split between their tour funds and our Cyclone Winston appeal for Vili Veikoso.

Whilst I’m sure plenty of fans at Castle Park will have tucked into an Easter egg or two prior to arriving at the stadium, room can always be found for some home cooked baking. The girls have cooked up a stunning variety of sweet treats which will be on sale opposite the Club shop under the DML Stand concourse before kick off on Sunday.

The Grils will also have donation buckets and remember you can donate directly to our Cyclone Winston appeal here.

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Buy your Bristol tickets this weekend

Ahead of Sunday’s top of the table clash with Bristol Rugby the Castle Park ticket office will be extending opening hours.

Fans can purchase tickets for this weekend’s feature clash from 9am-5pm today (Good Friday) and tomorrow. The ticket office is located on the ground floor of The Clubhouse.

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Cyclone Winston appeal.

DRFC are asking the Knights Family to pull together behind our very own, Vili Veikoso, in the wake of Cyclone Winston.

As many of you will be aware, last month the Island of Fiji was devastated by Cyclone Winston, the worst tropical storm to have hit the Southern Hemisphere in history.

The category five storm claimed the lives of 44 people and destroyed 9,173 homes, while 16,757 were damaged with an estimated total damage cost of over £180 million.

Despite being half the world away Knights star Vili Veikoso, who represented Fiji in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, was shook to his very core by the Cyclone as his wife and two children endured the full-force back home on the Island

After the storm hit, 80% of Fiji’s population lost power meaning Vili did not hear from his family for almost a week left not-knowing if they were safe. Thankfully all three were left unscathed by the cyclone, though his family home was damaged and many of his family have seen their houses destroyed.

Speaking after the disaster Vili detailed his gut-wrenching experience as the Cyclone hit his homeland and the agonizing wait to hear from his family. “My wife and children were living in my place that I had been building but it wasn’t finished yet and I was hearing various weather reports and becoming anxious.

“At the start of the year it had been reported that there would be around 13 cyclones that might hit Fiji and before Winston there had been two that narrowly missed the Island.

“I was hearing on the news about how serious this Cyclone was and ringing home, asking what my wife was planning to do for when it hits as I was really concerned especially with the house not fully built; I was worried they would not have been sheltered.

“Even though I was here in England I was getting more information about what was happening than my family back home as all the radio was down on the Island. I was messaging them on Skype but I don’t think they really understood how big the storm was, there are often small cyclones that pass close to Fiji but don’t do much damage was so I told them this one was different.

“I told my wife to leave the house and go to my parents place as they live in Suva [the capital city] in a house with better shelter. I rang my brother in law and asked him to take his car and pick up my wife and kids up as the bus services had stopped, this was about 5pm in Fiji but 2am in the UK and the wind was already starting to blow even though it wasn’t expected to hit until 9pm.

“The last contact I had with my family before it hit was with my wife who told me she had got to my parents’ house and the phone actually cut out whilst I was speaking to her.

“After that I had almost a full week without hearing from them. They had no communications or power for days and I just didn’t know if they were ok. I felt absolutely helpless and all I could do was pray.

“Our village was hit very badly, I have aunties and cousins whose houses have been destroyed and they have to rebuild from scratch. Last month I sent all of my pay apart from £100 to my family to try and pay for our house to be patched up in case something else happens and any that was left over to help the rest of my family.”

Most of us couldn’t begin to imagine how tough the past month has been on Vili and now we are asking DRFC and the Knights Family to pull together to help our front row powerhouse rebuild his family’s home.

We have set a target of £2,500 to help Vili rebuild his family’s home and a further £7,500 to contribute to the rebuilding of the village communal facilities including the local school and other common use amenities. You can donate here – https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/doncasterknights there will also be donation envelopes on all tables in Sunday’s TOSSERS lunch and hospitality meals and we are hosting a silent auction for a framed, signed Doncaster Knights shirt in Arms Park ahead of kick off versus Bristol this Sunday.

Thanks in advance.

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Academy side named for Nottingham Clash.

The Knights academy head to Lady Bay this evening to take on their counterparts from Nottingham; KO 19:30.

The two sides met at Castle Park earlier this month with the young Green and Whites prevailing 17-26 in a hard-fought encounter. Tonight the Donny lads will be hoping to even things up as they travel to The Bay and DRFC Rugby Development Manager Ants Posa has named an exciting squad full of local youngsters.

Entry to the clash is completely free of charge and all support is very welcome.

Starting XV; 15 Lee Wallace, 14 Josh Clayton, 13 Ed Miles, 12 Brad Farrell, 11 Josh Fowler, 10 Brad Maltby, 9 Rowan Mason, 1 Joe Lowcock, 2 Will Holling, 3 Alex Keeton, 4 Dan Salt, 5 Luke Rivers, 6 Dan Robinson, 7 John Henderson, 8 Sam Eyre

Replacements; 16 Josh John 17 Reece Norton 18 Jamal Khalil 19 Tom Kerry 20 Rowan Mason 21 Karim Hamdi 22 Lewis Wilson 23 Rhys Moore 24 Jack Thompson.

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Only limited TOSSERS tickets remain.

This Sunday sees the third gathering of the season for the DRFC TOSSERS ahead of the top of the Championship clash between the Knights and Bristol at Castle Park.

The meal will, of course, feature our famous Cow Pie with chips and mushy peas and a vegetarian alternative is also available, followed by cheese and biscuits. The price for this feast is £14*, which includes a match day programme, and we ask you to arrive at 11.30 for a 12 noon start.

Demand for this Knights tradition seems to grow with every gathering and we are delighted to announce that the vast majority of places have already been sold; in fact just 25 places remain. So if you are hoping to attend this Easter Sunday edition of the TOSSERS Lunch please book your place as soon as possible.Tickets are on sale from reception or by calling 01302 831388 opt 5. Lunch starts.

*Match ticket not included in meal price.

Artwork by Vicky Buckley

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Griff and Kendo pay tribute to former Knight John Cannon.

Many of you will have heard of the tragic passing of former Knight John Cannon over the weekend following a suspected heart attack.

John, or JC as he was affectionately known to many, joined the Knights from Coventry in 2005 and spent two years with the Club before being forced to retire from the game following a series of concussions.

The Canadian international, who gained 31 caps, was renowned for being a hard-hitting, powerful number twelve and was once described as “the best centre outside the Premiership in England” by Rugby World magazine.

Griff, who was Director of Rugby at Castle Park for much of John’s spell with the Club paid tribute to the well-liked former Knight stating. “I was devastated to learn of John’s passing, he was a larger than life character, truly uncompromising on the field and a much underrated player. It is truly sad news for all those who’ve had the pleasure of coaching and playing alongside him.”

Kenworthy, who lined up alongside John in the Doncaster blue, red and white many times added. “John was a really tough player on the pitch and top bloke off it, he’ll be greatly missed and our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.”

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Venue change for Welsh clash.

The Knights final game of the regular stage of the Greene King IPA Championship versus London Welsh will now be played at Rosslyn Park RFC rather than Old Deer Park.

All other details remain the same with the fixture taking place on Saturday 23rd April, Kick Off 15:00.

London Welsh are the only side that the Knights are yet to beat in the Championship this term, having lost out to The Exiles at Castle Park on the opening day of the season.

We apologies for any inconvenience caused and hope that the three mile relocation from Richmond does not prevent any away travelers from making the trip.

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