SIGNING | HE’S BACK!

Norwich born Back rower, Thom Smith signs for the Doncaster Knights from 2022/23 Championship Rugby winners, Jersey Reds for the 2024/25 Season.

Smith is an exciting young signing to bring back into the Doncaster Knights squad. Having started his professional Rugby career for Premiership titans, Leicester Tigers, back in the 2018/19 Season, Smith has gone from strength to strength as he became Leicester’s youngest captain at age 19.

Mid-way through the 2021/22 Season, Smith was released by the Tigers, to where he immediately signed for the Knights (coming off of a loan period to the Knights) and made a very lasting impression around Castle Park, on and off the pitch. While playing for Doncaster, Smith played a total of 2254 minutes, scoring a total of 25 points.

The end of the 2022/23 season saw Smith sign for Jersey Reds, who won the Championship league that season, but unfortunately fell into liquidation right on the cusp of the 2023/24 season opener, leaving Smith without a home team.

Head coach, Joe Ford had a few things to say about Smith’s return,

“People will know Smithy, one of the best people you can have around the environment. Such a positive influence on everyone the last time he was here and we were actually gutted to lose him to Jersey.

He’s been at Leicester, captained them and he’s another player that will add massive value to our squad. As soon as his name came up, we couldn’t sign him quick enough because firstly from what he brings off of the pitch, and importantly, the quality he brings onto the pitch, is so exciting. He’s going to be a massive part of what we’re about next year.”

Smith comes into the Knights squad aged 24, standing at 1.85m and weighing in at 103kg.

Thom Smith is available for sponsorship for the 2024/25 season – For more information, please contact Tom Foy at tomfoy@castle-park.co.uk

SIGNING | Yorkshireman back on home soil

Yorkshire born Fly-half, Morgan Bunting joins the Doncaster Knights from Championship opposition Nottingham for the 2024/25 Season.

Starting his Rugby career over at Hull Ionians in the National 2 North League back in the 2018/19 Season, Bunting quickly made the switch to Yorkshire rivals Rotherham Titans to gain the opportunity to play in the National League 1, where he made 14 appearances and scored over 30 points at the ripe age of 19. During this time, Bunting completed his University studies, playing with Bishop Burton and also captaining the side. At the start of the 2021 Season, Bunting made his professional Rugby debut for Championship outfit Nottingham, where he has been a key member of the squad, putting in a total of 2403 playing minutes and scoring 116 points from 49 appearances.

Head Coach, Joe Ford on Bunting’s arrival,

“He’s a Yorkshireman, which is important to us. We’re very keen to get Yorkshire players playing for a Yorkshire club, it means a lot to them but us as well. He’s got ties to the club with his Dad playing here in the past, and at the beginning of the season he was in brilliant form for Nottingham.

 The exciting thing about Morgan is, there’s a lot more in him. The way he attacks the line, there’s a lot of growth there, his kicking game is really good and he’s tough, again, one that will add a lot of quality to our squad.”

Bunting comes into the Knights squad aged 23, standing at 1.8m and weighing in at 85kg.

Morgan Bunting is available for sponsorship for the 2024/25 season – For more information, please contact Tom Foy at tomfoy@castle-park.co.uk

SIGNING | The BEAR necessities

Dynamic Hooker, Fred Davies joins the Doncaster Knights from Premiership side, Bristol Bears for the 2024/25 Season.

Davies started out his career in the Northampton Saints Academy, and quickly made the transition into University Rugby. He was later picked up by Pat Lam (Bristol Bears) from BUCS Super Rugby side, Durham University, where he held the title of BUCS Super Rugby player of the year. Davies scored an impressive 22 tries for Durham in the 2021/22 BUCS Super Rugby competition, the competition’s all-time record. Known for his scoring ability and impressive performances, Davies brings a wealth of talent into the Doncaster Knights camp.

This season, Davies has gone on to make 5 appearances for the Bears, playing a total of 137 minutes.

Head coach, Joe Ford states,

“He has gained some invaluable experience while playing at Bristol. He’s captained Bristol and he’s going to come in and add some real competition within the squad and as ever, add great options at hooker for the new season.

He’s worked with Darren Fearn (Doncaster Knights Forwards Coach for the 2024/25 Season) at England students and Darren was very keen to bring him into the side.”

Davies comes into the Knights pack aged 25, standing at 1.86m and weighing in at 110kg.

Fred Davies is available for sponsorship for the 2024/25 season – For more information, please contact Tom Foy at tomfoy@castle-park.co.uk

Match Highlights | Championship Rugby, Round 21 | Doncaster Knights 20 – 12 Ealing Trailfinders

Doncaster delivered an outstanding performance and result at Castle Park, one of the shocks of the season, and while they deservedly beat the league’s best side, they couldn’t stop them winning the Championship, thanks to Coventry’s defeat by Cornish Pirates.

So, the west London club win the Championship for the second time under director of rugby Ben Ward, but after this defeat by the Knights, who recovered strongly from successive losses, he was rather subdued.

“ I’ve got mixed emotions. We are delighted to win the league. We set out at the start of the season with that goal, and we’ve achieved it.

“ But we didn’t play to the level we are capable of, so full credit to Doncaster. I also owe a few beers to the boys at Pirates. I thought Doncaster were really good.

“ This is a tough league so to achieve our target is special. We’ll take that and looking ahead I want to create a legacy.”

After losing at Bedford, Doncaster were determined to fight back and show their potential. Excellent tries by scrum half Ollie Fox, running in from 30 metres, and then by centre Joe Margetts, side-stepping through weak defence, plus accurate goal-kicking from fly half Russ Bennett, two conversions and two penalties, provided a lead of 20-12 with 12 minutes remaining.

This set up a tense climax as Ealing, guilty of missing several chances and earlier handicapped by yellow cards against Craig Willis and Tom Collins, tried hard to regain control.

However, as Doncaster defended so effectively and with Ealing conceding penalties, they could never match the authority which produced tries for hooker Matt Cornish and winger Collins.

The thrilling try by Margetts, arguably was the turning point and with Bennett’s conversion, Doncaster led 17-12.

The Knights’ pack fought relentlessly to keep the ball, and collectively the team showed genuine character in their last home game in which they caused a major upset.

“ I’m so proud of the boys after we lost at Bedford. Our defence coach, Tyson Lewis, has done a great job. Not many teams this season have kept Ealing to 12 points,” said Doncaster’s coach Joe Ford.

“ He prepared the boys brilliantly and they then put their bodies on the line. I also thought our half backs, Ollie Fox and Russ Bennett played so well.”

With one game left, the new champions Ealing have won 15 matches and lost four, and are now busy recruiting for next season with the aim of retaining their title.

Doncaster Knights: McBryde 8, Simpson 8, Margetts 8, Bedlow 8(Olver 68 7), Holden 8(Metcalfe 77 6), Bennett 9, Fox 9, Davidson 8(Courtney 68 7), Roberts 8(Doughty 77 6), Thiede 8(Foster 59 8), Mintern 8(Beckett 64 7), Murphy 8, Brown 8(Digby 54 7),Smeaton 8,(Ehizode 77 6), Wilson 8.

Ealing Trailfinders: Kelleher 6, Collins 6, Kernohan 7, O’Brien 7(Lancaster 68 6), Cordy-Redden 6, Willis 6, Hampson 6(Williams 75 6), Whyte 7, Cornish 7(Willemse 45 6), Alo 7(Davis 59 6), O’Connor 7, Davidson 7(Maddison 54 6), Reid 6(Uzokwe 54 6), Hardwick 6, Smid 6(Montgomery 70 6).

Doncaster Knights: Tries: Fox 25, Margetts 59. Conversions: Bennett 25, 59. Penalties: Bennett 40,68.

Ealing Trailfinders: Tries: Cornish 9, Collins 54. Conversion: Willis 9.

Half time: 10-7.

Penalties conceded: 12-10.

Lineouts won: 10-7.

Lineouts lost: 1-1.

Scrums won: 4-4.

Scrums lost: 0-2.

Sin bin: Craig Willis and Tom Collins Ealing Trailfinders.

Referee: Alex Thomas.

Attendance: 1552.

Star man: Russ Bennett  Doncaster Knights.

 

Words by Guy Williams

SIGNING | Olowofela signs on the dotted line

Hull born centre/winger, Jordon Olowofela signs for Doncaster Knights from Championship rivals Nottingham, ready for the 2024/25 season.

Former Leicester Tigers centre, Olowofela has a wealth of experience having played within the Premiership outfit for 5 seasons, while with the Tigers, Jordon went to play out in the Super Rugby Pacific league with Western Force on loan, where he gained 10 appearances under his belt.

Signing for Championship side, Nottingham in 2022, Olowofela has since been a key figure within their starting 15.

Head coach, Joe Ford comments on Jordon’s arrival for the 2024/25 season…

“I spent a couple of years with him at Leicester, I know he’s a great character and will fit into the group perfectly. He’s really well liked by everyone and this is really important coming into a new group.

He’s a player who’s got genuine speed, in testing at Leicester he was faster than Jonny May, he’s excited and has loads of experience from playing in the Premiership, Super Rugby Pacific and he’s also been playing really well for Nottingham this year, so we’re very excited to see him at Castle Park for next season.”

Jordon Olowofela comes into the Knights squad aged 26, standing in at 1.88cm and weighing 92kg.

Jordon Olowofela is available for sponsorship for the 2024/25 season – For more information, please contact Tom Foy at tomfoy@castle-park.co.uk

SIGNING | Ex-Knight returns from Battle

Hailing from Mold, North Wales, Tighthead Prop Joe Jones signs for the Doncaster Knights from Scarlets Rugby, ready for the 2024/25 season.

Former Wales U20’s Captain, Jones makes his way back to Castle Park, having previously played for the club in a brief stint back in the 2020/21 season.

Jones comes back into the Knights set up after having successful seasons with both Sale Sharks and Scarlets Rugby but has extensive playing time with the likes of Cardiff Blues, Perpignan and fellow Championship Rugby rivals, Coventry.

Speaking with Head Coach, Joe Ford ahead of Jones’ arrival,

“This is massive for the Club to get Joey back to Castle Park.

On the field he will clearly make a massive impact but from working with him previously, and knowing his character, we know that he will be invaluable within our environment.”

At 28 years of age, Tighthead prop, Jones stands in at 183cm, weighing 123kg and has made 8 appearances this season for the Scarlets.

Joe Jones is available for sponsorship for the 2024/25 season – For more information, please contact Tom Foy at tomfoy@castle-park.co.uk

Club News | Mr Steve Newson Funeral Arrangements

If you would like to celebrate the life of Mr Steve Newson with friends and his family, Mr Newson’s funeral will take place on Wednesday 22nd May 11AM at Barnby Moor Crematorium.

Again, Steve played on the wing in the 1970s before he went to work in Australia, when he returned, he spent time as the club safety officer. He is a holder of a chain gang awards tie for is efforts. 

Our thoughts go out to his wife Jan and family at this sad time. 

TEAM SHEET | Doncaster Knights vs Ealing Trailfinders | Round 21 Championship Rugby

1 change within the starting XV for Doncaster Knights as they go into Round 21 of Championship Rugby Vs Ealing Trailfinders, at Castle Park.

The change comes within the backs as Joe Bedlow comes in for Connor Edwards at #12.

Ethan Caine comes in on the bench, on loan from Sale Sharks to cover injury within the forward pack.

The last time Ealing Trailfinders came to Castle Park, saw the Knights take a home ground loss with a score of 14-35.

It’s top of the table vs 5th this weekend for Doncaster Knights’ last home game of the season!

LET’S GO OUT WITH A BANG!

Starting XV

  1. Conor Davidson
  2. George Roberts
  3. Lewis Thiede
  4. Evan Mintern
  5. Ben Murphy
  6. Fyn Brown
  7. Archie Smeaton
  8. Harry Wilson
  9. Ollie Fox
  10. Russell Bennett
  11. Maliq Holden
  12. Joe Bedlow
  13. Joe Margetts
  14. George Simpson
  15. Billy McBryde ©

Replacements

  1. Ethan Caine
  2. Harrison Courtney
  3. Andrew Foster
  4. Charlie Beckett
  5. Jack Digby
  6. Ehize Ehizode
  7. Will Metcalfe
  8. Sam Olver

RFU Disciplinary | Alex Dolly

Issued on behalf of Championship Rugby

RFU Disciplinary: Alex Dolly, Doncaster Knights

The case of Alex Dolly, Doncaster Knights, was heard on papers by sole judicial officer, Jeremy Summers.

Dolly received a red card for a dangerous tackle, contrary to World Rugby Law 9.13, during the second half of the game against Bedford Blues on 4 May.  

Dolly admitted the charge and was given a three week suspension which will be reduced to two weeks if the player completes World Rugby’s Coaching Intervention Programme (CIP). 

Dolly will miss the following games: 

11 May v Ealing Trailfinders

25 May v Hartpury University

TBC – subject to completion of CIP

The full judgement is available here.

For background detail on panel members please click here

For RFU Regulation 19 please click here.

For the sanctions table (RFU Regulation 19 Appendix 2) please click here.

Match Highlights | Championship Rugby, Round 20 | Bedford Blues 32-29 Doncaster Knights

𝐌𝐚𝐭𝐜𝐡 𝐑𝐞𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭

Doncaster, who for an hour were playing their best rugby of the Championship season so far, must be wondering how they lost a thrilling game at Goldington Road where they seemed certain to win.

With their forwards, inspired by flanker Fyn Brown, who’s been signed by Northampton Saints, in control, they led 24-10 at half time and then increased their authority to 29-10 after winger Maliq Holden burst through to score the Knights’ fourth try. That bonus point try stressed that Doncaster were outplaying their opponents who’d earlier conceded a penalty try, and outstanding scores by centre Connor Edwards and flanker Archie Smeaton. And with fly half Russell Bennett adding a penalty and two conversions, Doncaster’s healthy lead, with little more than 20 minutes remaining, appeared rock-solid.

However,Doncaster,inexplicably, weren’t strong enough to resist a remarkable Bedford recovery, producing tries on 58, 62 and 78 minutes, a sequence that transformed the contest. After the Blues’ fourth try had been converted, the score was level at 29-29, but the drama was far from finished. Doncaster, under constant pressure, were now playing with 14 men after replacement scrum half Alex Dolly had been given a red card. Bedford launched one final attack towards Doncaster’s posts in the 80th minute and it delivered a memorable climax.

Replacement fly half Louis Grimoldby,showing calmness and skill, dropped a goal and with it three points to earn a dramatic victory which had earlier never seemed possible. It was a sickening result for Doncaster who left with only two points.

They remain, though, 5th in the Championship on 53 points.

Their next challenge, this Saturday at Castle Park, couldn’t be any tougher-against Championship leaders Ealing Trailfinders.

Words by Guy Williams

Photography by John Ashton @ickledot

TEAM SHEET | Doncaster Knights vs Bedford Blues | Round 20 Championship Rugby

1 change within the starting XV for the Doncaster Knights as they face Bedford Blues in Round 20 of Championship Rugby this weekend.

The change comes within the backs as George Simpson comes in at #14 for Jack Metcalf.

Ethan Caine comes in on the bench, on loan from Sale Sharks to cover injury within the forward pack.

The last time both teams met at Goldington Road saw Bedford take the victory with a score of 48-25. This 23/24 season saw the Blues make the journey to Castle Park, where the Knights, through a hard fought battle, took a 26-20 win on home turf. It’s been 7 years since the Knights got the away win at Goldington Road, so the challenge has been set for this weekend.

It’s 4th Vs 5th with 4 points in it, the race for a strong table finish is underway.

 

Starting XV

  1. Conor Davidson
  2. George Roberts
  3. Lewis Thiede
  4. Evan Mintern
  5. Ben Murphy
  6. Fyn Brown
  7. Archie Smeaton
  8. Harry Wilson
  9. Ollie Fox
  10. Russell Bennett
  11. Maliq Holden
  12. Connor Edwards
  13. Joe Margetts
  14. George Simpson
  15. Billy McBryde ©

Replacements

  1. Ethan Caine
  2. Andrew Foster
  3. Corrie Barrett
  4. Ehize Ehizode
  5. Jack Digby
  6. Alex Dolly
  7. Sam Olver
  8. Joe Bedlow

You can purchase your match-day tickets for the Knights last game of the season (Saturday May 11th, 2:30pm Kick Off) Vs. Ealing Trailfinders here at drfc.co.uk/tickets