The Knights secured qualification to the British and Irish Cup quarterfinals with a bonus point win over previously undefeated pool leaders Leinster A at Donnybrook.
After trailing 21-8 at half time, the Knights mounted a sensational second half comeback to book their place in the knock out stages with four tries in the game’s second forty and a mightily impressive display.
Few could fault how the Knights started the game as the side looked very bright in the early stages after a booming tackle from debutant Josh Tyrell killed an attack from the hosts shortly after kick off.
Not to be out done Lesley Klim, who really made his present felt in defence in the first half, forced a penalty on the floor which was kicked to touch by Simon Humberstone.
From the corner Donny executed a training ground line out move which resulted in Joe Sproston crashing over down the short side having taken a pass off the top from Alex Shaw.
Humberstone was unsuccessful with the extras but the Knights were up and running.
The lead was ever so shortly lived however as good pressure on a deep restart forced Michael Heaney to kick to touch from which the home pack drove smartly. As they neared to the 22m scrum half Nick McCarthy gathered possession and spun a zippy flat pass to Gavin Mullin who collected to gallop home untouched.
Fly half Ciaran Frawley’s successful conversion put Leinster into the lead but Humberstone put the Knights back on top with an on target penalty just four minutes later
The game’s second quarter was a poor one for the Knights as they conceded two sloppy tries to leave themselves in a tricky situation entering the change of ends.
Seeing he was outnumbered Tyson Lewis elected to go for an intercept and very nearly succeeded but in a jostle for possession the winger lost out and Leinster attacked.
Loose head Ed Byrne charged into the 22m and produced a sublime side step to wrong foot Paul Jarvis and cross under the sticks. Frawley made no mistake with the extras – 14-8.
The hosts crossed again shortly after following good pressure at the set piece.
A well hit cross field kick was almost collected by Jarvis but he could not quite hold it and the ball bounced dead after scraping his finger tips. A scrum penalty was reset from which scrum half Nick McCarthy carried through a gap to score.
The Knights reacted well and found their feet as the game edged towards half time but were met by a solid wall of Leinster defence and could not reduce the deficit before the interval.
Donny continued in the same attacking vein at the start of the second half and the breakthrough came on fifty-minutes.
Having kicked a penalty to the corner possession was moved infield and Lesley Klim hit a line to get within inches. On the next phase it looked as if Matt Challinor had got over the line but no try was given. Instead a penalty went the Knights way and lock Mick Kearney was shown a yellow card for a goal line infringement.
The penalty was tapped as the forwards set up a centerfield maul from five metres out before spinning possession wide. A pass intended to Tyson Lewis on the left hand side was knocked down by full back Bary Daly which resulted in a penalty try and a yellow card for Daly.
The seven points brought the Knights within a score and presented them with a fantastic opportunity with a two-man advantage over the hosts. If there was to be a comeback the following ten-minute period would surely be crucial.
Leinster showed impressive spirit whilst down to thirteen and actually put the Knights under some serious pressure shortly after the penalty try.
A midfield penalty was struck with great distance into the Knights 22m by Frawley but an overthrow at the line out was collected by Ben Hunter and what followed was a piece of individual brilliance.
Klim looked to carry out of the Knights 22m but was caught so offloaded to Jarvis who looked to have no room on the outside so cut back in. Weaving and stepping his way through traffic the full back broke free before evading a further three defenders to score from all of 80m.
Humberstone couldn’t convert but the Knights had the lead and would not left it go this time.
Leinster were restored to a full compliment with just over ten minutes to play with the Knights lead still just a fragile one point.
Good input from the bench saw the Knights carry the fight in the late stages with hooker Curtis Langdon producing a fine midfield carry to put the side on the front foot. Jarvis continued the move before Tom James sent Junior Bulumakau on his way down the short side. The winger released Adam Batt down the right flank and the replacement back row showed an impressive turn of pace to carry to within 5m of the Leinster line. The covering defence eventually hauled Batt down but Bulumakau was in support to collect an offload and score the all important fourth try.
Humberstone showed a cool head to convert from out wide and then added a penalty moments later after Frawley attempted to outsprint Tom James and was subsequently caught without support on the floor; 21-30.
The game was won on 78 minutes as, after concerted pressure in their own goal area, Leinster were forced to kick.
McCarthy’s attempt was collected by Mat Clark in the home 22m who carried to within 5m and on the next phase Matt Challinor flew in at first receiver to smash home.
Leinster got some consolation in the game’s final play as replacement hooker Sean McNulty touched down at the back of a driving line out and Charlie Rock’s conversion made the final score 28-37.
A resounding victory for the Knights who will know if they can replicate their second half form in future fixtures that 2018 could be a successful year.
The squad to travel to Donnybrook tomorrow has been named as the Knights look to secure qualification to the knock out stages of the British and Irish Cup against unbeaten pool leaders Leinster A.
Currently ranked 7th in the overall standings, the Knights are well-placed to qualify as a best place runner up and know a win in Ireland would guarantee progression the quarterfinal stage. It is possible that bonus points alone would be enough to see the side through to the knock out stages but only a win will guarantee it.
Tyson Lewis switches infield to partner Mat Clark at centre and Junior Bulumakau is recalled onto the right wing.
Curtis Wilson and Paul Jarvis retain their places from last weekend’s 32-37 loss to Bristol and rotation continues in the half backs with Michael Heaney and Simon Humberstone returning at nine and ten in place of Declan Cusack and Tom James.
Upfront Richard List and Ben Hunter get the nod alongside Joe sproston in the front row with Matt Challinor wearing the captain’s armband at lock accompanied by Tom James.
Samoan international Tosh Tyrell will make his debut for the Knights having penned for the Club a week ago. Alex Shaw starts at number eight and Will Owen returns on dual-registration from Wasps to start at open side.
On the bench, hooker Curtis Langdon is drafted in from the AJ Bell and on to the Knights bench alongside front row replacements Jack Bergmanas and Ian Williams. Adam Batt is named in the match-day twenty-two for a second week running with Jason Hill completing the forward substitutes.
Kick off tomorrow is at 15:00 and live updates are available on twitter.
Join us this Saturday as Knights winger Dougie Flockhart says goodbye to his flowing locks all in the name of charity having grown his mop for two years.
Following the clash with Hartpury RFC, the Club’s all-time leading point-scorer Dougie Flockhart will be shaving his head on the concourse stage raising money for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice and you can have a chance of doing the honours.
We will be selling raffle tickets with all proceeds going to the Hospice which will be drawn at full time by Poldark star Eleanor Tomlinson with the winner getting to shave Dougie’s head!
Dougie will be joined by good friend and DRFC Under 11s rugby mum Louise Tuczemskyi in braving the shave with their hair will be donated to the little princess trust.
Prior to the fixture we are inviting all Knights fans to put their best foot forward and join us in a 4KM fun run/walk organized in association with Danum Harriers Running Club.
To enter the run/walk cost £15 for adults and £10 for under 16s but includes a special edition t-shirt designed by students of the XP School and free entry to Doncaster Knights vs Hartpury RFC with all profits going to Bluebell Wood hospice. All entrants will also recieve a free day pass with fitness partners Nuffield Health and the first male and female to complete the run will recieve a free month pass.
The run/walk will start at 9:30am at Castle Park [parking on woodside pitch] with participants following a route pre-set and marshalled by members of Danum Harriers before finishing at Castle Park and we hope to see as many fans get involved as possible!
The Knights return to Championship action next weekend on Sunday January 28th away at Lady Bay to take on Nottingham.
With just one league point and one place seperating the two sides it is set to be belting fixture and the Club’s supporters coach is making the trip – allowing you to fully enjoy the Green and White’s hospitality.
The coach will arrive at Castle Park at noon and depart shortly after. Please allow plenty of time for parking or, preferably, arrange a drop off as the mini junior section will be playing fixtures and training.
The cost will be £15 for adults and £10 for juniors & to book your seat please text John Lowe on 0797977122706 or email email@example.com.
Charlie Foley continued to demonstrate his versatility at the weekend as he replaced Declan Cusack at fly-half for the final twenty minutes of Saturday’s 32-37 defeat to Bristol Rugby.
The 26-year-old came agonisingly close to scoring a late try for the Knights who just couldn’t quite punish two late yellow cards for the visitors.
Reflecting on the game, Foley believes the side can draw confidence from running in four tries against a strong Bristol side but that it was frustrating to concede cheap tries from avoidable errors.
Looking ahead to this weekend Charlie states that the team know everything is the play for in terms of knock out stages qualification that it is likely he will miss out due to a knock sustained late on versus the Championship league leaders.
The Knights progression to the British and Irish Cup knock out stages will be determined on the final weekend of group action following a narrow defeat to Championship league leaders Bristol Rugby.
In a nine try feast at Castle Park the Knights collected two competition points but could not force a second victory over Pat Lam’s charges, despite taking a second half lead.
Donny had chances to win the game in the dying stages, pressurizing the visitors who were reduced to thirteen men following sin binnings for Will Hurrell and Nick Haining. However, the breakthrough was not found leaving the Knights ruing costly early errors including two intercepted tries.
The Knights started brightly enough and were lively in attack with new boy Lesley Klim looking particularly dangerous when permitted room to run. Early pressure and a midfield penalty moved Donny deep into the Bristol 22m but from there they were dealt a cruel blow.
Lock Joe Batley gambled to chase after a flat Tom James pass and was able to collect possession before racing downfield. Speedsters Paul Jarvis & Tyson Lewis gave chase but the second row would not be caught and got over from over eighty metres.
Fly half Callum Sheedy kicked the extras before adding a penalty just after the quarter hour mark to give the visitors a double figure lead.
The deficit was not an accurate reflection of the opening exchanges and soon Donny were on the board following a Bristol failure to collect the post penalty restart.
A free kick went the Knights way at the resulting scrum and Jason Hill tapped quickly. The number eight made good ground before being brought down and from the breakdown play was switched blind. Declan Cusack launched a long wide pass toward Paul Jarvis who collected before finishing well in the corner. Cusack converted; 7-10.
The try should have created a platform for the Knights to build on but instead it prompted an immediate Bristol response who scored a second through Nick Haining. The back-row collected a sharp pass from Andy Uren after the scrum half had broke through at the back of a line out and charged over.
The you go, I go nature of the scoring continued as the first half entered it’s closing stages with the Knights scoring twice more either side of winger Tom Varndell’s first of a brace of tries on the afternoon.
Firstly, Joe Sproston crashed over from short range after the pack had driven a post penalty line out to within inches of the Bristol line. Then Declan Cusack finished a lovely sequence of offloads initiated by a Jarvis kick return and featuring Tom James and Lesley Klim.
Cusack converted his own effort leaving the game delicately poised at 19-22 going into the change of ends.
Much like the beginning of the first half, the second forty began rather unluckily for the Knights. Curtis Wilson appeared to have fielded a looming up and under and was well on his way but play was brought back for a Bristol line out much to the bemusement of the home fans.
From there centre Jack Tovey fielded possession and cruised through some rather sloppy defensive play to extends his side’s lead.
Cusack struck a penalty just two minute’s later to make it 22-27 following an indiscretion at the ruck from the Bristol pack.
The Knights took the lead on the fifty-minute mark as Lesley Klim marked his debut for the club with a well-taken score.
From a deep lineout the Knights attacked in field, creating room out wide and Cusack delayed a smart pass to the outside centre who put his foot down to finished coolly.
Cusack’s conversion moved the Knights ahead 29-27 but a penalty from Sheedy moments later reestablished the Bristol advantage.
With just a single point in it neither side could afford to make a mistake but unfortunately the Knights gifted Bristol a fifth try which created an unassailable eight-point lead. With the Knights pressing, Mat Clark forced a pass which was read by Varndell who quickly got into his stride to race away for a seven-point score.
Opportunities came for the Knights to win the game in the late stages, most notably through Charlie Foley and a wide attack which was dropped at the crucial moment but the visitors held on – even following two sin binnings in quick succession.
Michael Heaney struck a penalty to make it 32-37 with just over ten minutes to play which secured a second bonus point which the Knights had to settle for as Bristol took the win.
Qualification for the knock out stages remains very much a possibility for the Knights who head to Donnybrook next weekend.
The Knights are delighted to announce that Samoan International back-row Josh Tyrell has signed for the Club till the end of the season.
Josh arrives in Doncaster following a successful Mitre 10 cup campaign with North Harbour aiding the side to reach the Premiership semi-finals where they lost out to eventual champions Canterbury.
Josh’s Mitre 10 Cup form lead to a call up to the Manu Samoa squad for November’s international tour where he was named in the starting line up against Scotland. Tyrell marked his debut with a first half try in a thrilling 44-38 defeat in front of just under 70,000 at Murrayfield.
Josh got his second cap a fortnight later against England proving his versatility as he lined up alongside Bristol’s Chris Vui in the Samoan second row and will now aim to play a big part in the Knights 2018.
Commenting on his latest acquisition, Director of Rugby Clive Griffiths said. “We had been looking to add a fourth second row to our squad for some time and Josh Tyrell is a player who is capable in the row as well as 6 or 8.
“Along with Adam Batt we now have a full compliment in the pack, coincidentally both have played at North Harbour and already know each other.
“He is a player of international standard and equipped himself very well in the autumn tests, scoring against Scotland and impressing versus England; he will hopefully bring a huge amount of physicality to our play.”
2017/18 will be Josh’s first season in the Northern Hemisphere having played predominantly in his native New Zealand.
The 27-year-old captained his Club side, Hamilton Marist, to their Premier A competition title before going on to represent Waikato in the Mitre 10 Cup, enjoying various success including lifting the Ranfurly Shield, before switching to North Harbour for the 2017 season.
Speaking after his first day training at Castle Park Josh said. “I feel blessed to have been given this opportunity with Doncaster Knights, I really just want to start getting the work done now and hopefully get on the pitch very soon.
“I had my first day of training today so I’m trying to adapt to the differences, the boys were great and got around me to help me with various plays.
“This season I just want to make the most of my opportunities, play the best I can and hopefully help the team as much as I can.”
The Knights side to take the field for the very first time in 2018 has been named and includes a handful of changes to the XV that so narrowly lost out to Yorkshire Carnegie last time out.
In the backs, new signing Lesley Klim makes his debut for the Club having arrived from Namibian side Welwitschias last month. Lesley partners Mat Clark in midfield who shifts infield to inside centre in place of Will Owen who misses the tie with a knee injury.
Tyson Lewis continues on the left wing with Curtis Wilson hoping to extend his fine try-scoring form on the right hand side. Paul Jarvis has recovered from a shoulder injury to start at full back with Charlie Foley moving to the bench.
There are wholesale changes to the half backs with Declan Cusack and Tom James given the nod a fly half and scrum half. Michael Heaney is included on the bench.
Ben Hunter returns to the match day twenty-two having recovered from a rib concern and is the pick at hooker with David Nelson named among the replacements. Jack Bergmanas and Joe Sproston will start at props and Tom Hicks is back in action for the first time since November starting at lock. Hicks partners Morgan Eames ahead of a familiar back row of Jack Ram, Michael Hills and Jason Hill.
Ian Williams returns from a calf injury suffered in October’s defeat to Cornish Pirates to take his place on the bench with Adam Batt and Alex Shaw completing the forward replacements.
Kick off tomorrow is at 14:30 and updates will be available on twitter. Tomorrow’s game will also be followed by Doncaster Phoenix vs Sandbach on Pitch 1, kick off is 17:00 and entry is free to everyone with a Knights match day or season ticket.