Doncaster Knights 26-46 Ealing Trailfinders
An impressive second half showing saw Doncaster Knights record a four try Trailfinders Challenge Cup bonus point against Ealing Trailfinders in a display that showed plenty of potential.
Head Coach Steve Boden handed sixteen Knights their debut in what was the Knights first outing in over ten months. Bodescannot have been unhappy with what he saw against a side that have beaten Saracens, Newcastle Falcons & Bristol Bears teams since the 2019/20 season was ended prematurely.
Donny started perfect as Teenager Tom Bacon seized a bouncing ball in his own 22m and was able to outstrip the covering defence to raise away under the posts. Sam Olver slotted the extras to give the Knights an early seven-point lead.
This was as good as it got for the Knights who spent the remainder of the first half on the back foot.
No one could question the defensive effort of the home side but they fell foul of the referees whistle too often – even if some decisions seemed a touch harsh.
Ealing struck back through James Cordy-Redden when the wingers’ effort in the corner was rewarded despite a flag going up from the touch judge. A video replay may have shown that Kyle Evans did enough to force his opposite into touch but with no such technology the try stood & Craig Willis levelled the scores from the kicking tee.
The Trailfinders power was evident and they touched down twice more from close range after an impressive effort from prop Will Davis on 23 minutes. The frustration from a Knights perspective was that all Trailfinders field position came on the back of successive penalties.
On the stroke of half time man of the match Craig Hampson charged down a James Mitchell kick and the scrum half was able to retrieve the bouncing ball to dot down with Willis’ conversion making the half time score 7-33 in favour of the Londoners.
Donny were in danger of being on the wrong end of a cricket score in the second half but instead came out fighting and made a real fist of the contest.
Kyle Evans scored what was arguably the try of the game as he collected a perfectly weighted cross field kick from Sam Olver after Charlie Foley made a surging break from midfield.
Moments later the forwards found their groove to drive over from a deep lineout with hooker Will Holling emerging with the ball. Olver’s accurate conversions brought the Knights within 12 points with the at 21-33 after 48 minutes.
Ealing hit back through David Johnston after some miscommunication following the restart but the Knights got a fourth shortly after.
Smart phase play created some pace down the left flank and good link up play between Olver, Foley & Mark Best saw possession make it’s way to Aaron Reed & the youngster raced away to score.
A sign of how close things had become came moments later when the visitors elected to go at goal from a penalty in the Knights half which was dispatched by Steve Shingler.
Trailfinders got the final say when Dean Hammond was able to capitalize on a nice break from Pat Howard with a couple of minutes left on the clock.
Overall, plenty to work of the the Knights who look forward to a date with Saracens next but there were certainly plenty of positives to take into the rest of the competition.
Knights15 Tom Bacon 14 Kyle Evans 13 Charlie Foley 12 Mark Best 11 Aaron Reed 10 Sam Olver 9 James Mitchell 1 Conrad Cade 2 Will Holling 3 Joe Jones 4 Matt Challinor (c) 5 Matt Smith 6 Will Britton 7 Sam Graham 8 Guido Volpi
Replacements: 16 Josh Pieterse 17 George Roberts 18 Andrew Foster 19 John Kelly 20 Jack Davies 21 Gus Warr 22 Billy McBryde 23 Harry Strong (all used)
Tries: Tom Bacon (4 minutes) Kyle Evans (44 minutes) Will Holling (50 minutes) Aaron Reed (60 minutes)
Conversions:Sam Olver (4, 44. 50 minutes)
Ealing Trailfinders: 15 Luke Daniels 14 James Cordy Redden 13 David Johnston 12 Pat Howard 11 Dean Hammond 10 Craig Willis 9 Craig Hampson (replaced by Jordan Burns, 65 mins) 1 Will Davis (replaced by Elliot Chilvers, 70 mins) 2 Alun Walker 3 Elliot Millar Mills (replaced by George Davis, 15 mins) 4 Bobby de Wee 5 Ben West 6 Kieran Murphy 7 Guy Thompson 8 Rayn Smid (c)
Replacements: 16 Shaun Malton 17 Elliot Chilvers 18 George Davis 19 Abongile Nonkontwana 20 Adam Korczyk 21 Jordan Burns 22 Steven Shingler 23 Fraser Strachan (all used)
Tries:James Cordy Redden (15 minutes) Will Davis (20 minutes) Bobby de Wee (28 minutes) Guy Thompson (33 minutes) Craig Hampson (40 minutes) David Johnston (52 minutes) Dean Hammond (74 minutes)
Conversions:Craig Willis (15, 20, 33 minutes)
Penalties:Steven Shingler (65 minutes)