London Scottish 15-27 Doncaster Knights.
The Knights made it two wins on the spin with a gutsy performance against London Scottish, securing a bonus point in dramatic late fashion
On a grey but fine afternoon in Richmond the Knights started the game the stronger enjoying continued spells on possession in the Scottish half. Good carries from the Knights midfield pairing often put them on the front foot but a lack of early execution repeatedly let the hosts off the hook.
The game remained scoreless until after the quarter point when, deservedly, Donny took the lead.
A smart carry from Andy Bulumakau saw the centre break the defensive line and only a good, one on one, tackle from Craig Holland prevented a score. The Knights got close in the subsequent phases but were unable to break through but play was brought back for a Knights penalty.
Alertness is a quality highly valued for those who play scrum half and Michael Heaney more than demonstrated his for the first score moments later. With the Scottish backs turned, and seemingly switched off ,Heaney tapped and went from just inside the home 22m to race over untouched. Humberstone was unable to convert; 0-5.
The try seemed to breath life into the hosts who reacted with some of their best play of the first half immediately following the Heaney score. A period of pressure followed the restart and only some resolute goal line prevented an immediate response.
The pressure continued however and eventually the break came as a stretched Donny defence allowed space down the left-hand side and flanker Joe Atkinson gladly took possession to run home. Craig Holland added the extras and Scottish lead.
The Exiles continued to apply the pressure following the score but it was the Knights who bettered their position before the half.
A miss hit clearance kick from winger Nick Scott gave the Donny pack a lineout in the home 22m and following a smart drive possession went wide. A couple of quick phases followed and room was made for Tyson Lewis who produced a fine finished to get over in the corner. Humberstone could not convert and the Knights took a slender, three point, lead into the break.
Having struggled to take their chances for the majority of the first half the Knights began the second in electric fashion.
From a deep lineout the Knights attacked infield and made good progress into the Scottish 22m. Morgan Eames produced a clever dummy and carry to get within range of the goal and a couple of phases later Heaney backed himself from the base of a ruck get his second of the game.
A reaction came again from the Scots who almost hit back with a try of their own moments later but Matt Eliet managed to bump into James Tyas on his way to the line; the obstruction letting the Knights off the hook. The Exiles did add to their score however as play was brought back for an earlier infringement against the Knights and Holland kicked the three; 10-17.
After this a tense period followed with both sides creating half chances but neither really asserting their dominance on the game. Overall, the Knights were probably on top but the hosts made enough chances to make viewing uncomfortable for the considerable travelling support.
On 54 minutes Charlie Foley kicked the Knights back into a ten-point lead with a penalty, having replaced Simon Humberstone at stand off shortly before but the lead didn’t last long.
Having threaded a number of threatening phases together Scottish threw a loose pass that bounced back towards the half way line and looked like it might have killed their momentum. Not so, as the home midfield seized possession and countered down the right; Atkinson collected raced away for his second of the game – 15-20.
At this point the home crowd were getting quite excited and with just under ten minutes to play had every right to be. Opportunities befell both teams in the closing stages but it was Donny who made it count.
On an attacking move, a wide pass was spun to Holland and the full back’s hands failed him as he spilled possession in front of him. David Nelson reacted the quickest and dropped on the ball before offloading from the floor to the oncoming Will Owen who raced away under the sticks untouched. Foley added the extras and shortly after the full time whistle was blown.
It was far from a classic and the coaching team will doubtlessly have plenty to say ahead of Hartpury next Saturday but the wins means the Knights end September with four wins and firmly positioned in the league’s top four.
London Scottish: 15) Craig Holland, 14) Matt Williams, 13) Ross Neal, 12) Ben Mosses, 11) Nick Scott, 10) Fraser Lyle (Jake Sharp 63’), 9) Ed Hoadley, 1) Jonny Harris (Ben Christie 51’), 2) Isaac Miller, 3) Phil Cringle (Dino Waldren 67’), 4) Jonathan Mills, 5) James Tyas ,6) Matt Eliet (Kyle Baillie 73’), 7) Joe Atkinson, 8) Danny Kenny (c) (Chris Walker 51’),
Replacements; 16) Pete Austin, 17) Ben Onyeama Christie, 18) Dino Waldren, 19) Kyle Baillie, 20) Chris Walker, 21) Josh Barton, 22) Jake Sharp.
Tries; Atkinson 31’, 62’
Conv; Holland 32’
Pens; Holland 46′
Doncaater Knights; 15) Junior Bulumakau, 14) Curtis Wilson, 13) Andy Bulumakau, 12) Will Owen, 11) Tyson Lewis, 10) Simon Humberstone (Charlie Foley 46’), 9) Michael Heaney (Tom James 63’), 1) Richard List (Jack Bergmanas 57’), 2) Ben Hunter (David Nelson 68’), 3) Colin Quigley (Joe Sproston 60’), 4) Morgan Eames, 5) Tom Hicks, 6) Matt Challinor © 7) Alex Shaw, 8) Jason Hill (Sam Jones 60’)
Replacements; 16) David Nelson, 17) Jack Bergmanas, 18) Joseph Sproston, 19) Curtis Langdon, 20) Sam Jones, 21) Tom James, 22) Charlie Foley
Tries; Heaney 23’, 42’, Lewis 39’, Owen 76’
Conv; Humberstone 42’, Foley 76’
Pens; Foley 54’
Referee: Fergus Kirby