Doncaster Knights claimed an important bonus-point victory at the Stade in Jersey this afternoon, defeating the hosts 35-19.
It was a competitive first half but the Knights were the ones able to convert play into points, scoring two tries and a penalty in the first 40 minutes.
Not rolling away seemed to be a theme of the half for Jersey as they were repeatedly penalised for it. That very call gave Sam Olver his first chance at going for the posts – a kick he duly slotted to put the Knights on the board.
The scrum suffered during the first half as both sides took their turn in struggling to find their feet to remain steady. The first Knights try of the day came off the back of the set-piece, however.
Thom Smith fed the ball from his feet to Alex Dolly who popped a kick over the approaching defensive line. Mark Best broke through the line to collect a perfectly-timed bounce of the ball and dot down, despite being tackled on the line. Olver converted and the Knights were 10-0 ahead.
In the closing minutes of the half, the Knights were scoring again. A rolling maul from a lineout in the Jersey 22 allowed George Roberts to break off. Having been brought down just short of the line, the forwards went into their short, sharp phases before Smith crashed over.
Without a conversion from Olver, it was just the five points. The Knights didn’t have long to worry about that, however, as Jersey went hard on the offensive in the dying minute. Some harsh defensive tackles, a fumbled ball and being penalised for crossing brought the hosts’ hopes, and the half, to an end though.
Emerging for the second half, Jersey appeared more hungry than their first half showing but the Knights still did not relent to pressure – scoring a further two tries to claim the bonus point.
A familiar penalty for Jersey not rolling away reared its head and provided Olver with his first opportunity to kick as he added another penalty to the Knights tally.
Jersey scored their first points just shy of the hour mark as their driving maul cause slight chaos, but it was profitable for the home side as Eoghan Clarke crashed over, though it went without conversion.
The Knights responded with another penalty before Jersey added more of their own. The hosts found a small gap in the Knights defence out on the wide channels and were able to sneak James Elliott through it to score their second.
Ten minutes until full-time, and having been on the field approximately a minute, Connor Edwards was soaring over for the Knights. A dominant driving maul got the Knights in position for Edwards to collect the pop ball for the points, which Olver added the extras to.
Jersey ran their third and final score in a couple of minutes later, but it did little to quell the determination of the Knights who were set to cross one final time before the conclusive whistle.
Having made their way steadily further into the Jersey half, the Knights found themselves claiming a penalty deep into the away 22, and there was absolutely no chance of stopping the driving maul created off the back of the lineout. George Roberts seemed to be at the base of the pile for the score.
With the final say on points for the game, Olver struck the conversion confidently and sealed the scoreline at 35-19 to the travelling Donny side.
In an ultra-competitive Championship, bonus-point away wins like these can be extremely valuable come the end of the season.
Jersey XV | 15 Harry Simmons; 14 Ryan Hutler, 13 Ryan Olowofela, 12 Jordan Holgate, 11 Will Brown; 10 Brendan Owen, 9 James Mitchell; 1 James Flynn, 2 Eoghan Clarke, 3 Steve Longwell, 4 Sean O’Connor, 5 Macauley Cook, 6 Max Argyle, 7 Lewis Wynne, 8 Wes White.
Replacements | 16 Harry Doolan, 17 Huw Owen, 18 Jack Higgins, 19 Tom Everard, 20 Alex Humfrey, 21 Tim Grey; 22 James Elliott, 23 Scott Van Breda.
Tries: Clarke, Elliott 2.
Conv: Owen 2.
Knights XV | 15 Billy McBryde; 14 Kyle Evans, 13 Joe Margetts, 12 Mark Best, 11 Maliq Holden; 10 Sam Olver, 9 Alex Dolly; 1 Conor Davidson, 2 George Roberts, 3 Andrew Foster, 4 Ben Murphy, 5 Danny Drake, 6 Sam Hudson, 7 Sam Graham, 8 Thom Smith.
Replacements | 16 Ben Hunter, 17 Ben Carlile, 18 Charlie Connolly, 19 George Oram, 20 Josh Peters, 21 Joe Green, 22 Connor Edwards, 23 Guido Volpi.
Pens: Olver 3.
Tries: Best, Smith, Edwards, Olver.
Conv: Olver 3.
Referee: Sara Cox.