Knights hold off Pirates to stay unbeaten.
27th March 2021
Knights 17-15 Pirates.
Doncaster Knights held their nerve to pull off a famous victory and finish the day top of the Championship table.
The Knights produced a gusty and committed performance to record a first victory over Cornish Pirates since 2016 and remain unbeaten this Championship season.
John Kelly, who was superb throughout, got the Knights off to a flying start as he scored his second try of the season on seven minutes.
The bruising back-rower was able to charge through the middle of a driving line out and gallop home from just inside the 22m with Sam Olver converting.
The Pirates response was swift with number eight Tom Duncan going over in the corner after the visitors had got in range with a series of forward carries post line out.
The remainder of the first half was a real jostle, The Pirates physical and direct style caused Donny problems when they were permitted quick ball. Fleeting opportunities came for both sides but when Jerry Sexton was sin-binned on 28 minutes for a high tackle the Pirates made it count
A deep lineout was driven towards the home try line & Guido Volpi fell foul of the referee’s graces as he attempted to stop the visiting pack from rumbling over. Anthony Woodthorpe decided the infringement was sinister enough to warrant a penalty try & Volpi was sent to join Sexton in the bin.
Down to thirteen men and now trailing by five point, the signs were ominous for the Knights but the commitment show in the final ten minutes of the first half are arguably what won the Knights the game.
Repeated raids into the Knights 22m were repelled and time and time again Knights players produced big plays to relieve the pressure until time was called on the half.
Back to a full compliment the Knights came out on the front foot and battered at the Pirates defences.
Matt Challinor positioned himself within an inch of the line when a stray hand from Duncan slapped the ball loose, it seemed as if a penalty try would be awarded but instead a knock on was given.
Despite the pressure the Knights could force a score and, following some defensive over eagerness, Will Cargill hit a penalty to make it 7-15 after 53 minutes.
The Knights needed the next score and a superb play from Sam Olver made sure they got it, the stand off produced a lovely interception on half way to sprint away into the Pirates 22m.
The defensive play that followed was questionable in terms of it’s legality and after four successive penalties (but no yellow card) Conor Edwards got over to score off a hard-running line. Olver kicked the extras, 14-15 with the game in it’s final quarter.
Tense finishes are becoming a feature of the Knights 2021 form but today’s game topped the lot so far.
Both sides produce try-scoring opportunities in the late stages but neither could force their way home but after tens of patient carries a penalty dropped the Knights way. Olver duly obliged to put the Knights ahead 15-17 with four minutes to play.
Upon receiving the restart all expected possession to be hoofed as far into Pirates territory as possible. However, Donny were pinged on the floor though it must be said that is seemed as if the Cornish tackler had not released his man.
Fly half Will Cargill had enjoyed a fine game up to this point but he fluffed his lines when it counted the most, his penalty attempted drifted to the right of the uprights.
Time was not quite up and the Knights had to kick possession back to the visitors.
Billy McBryde struck the drop out long but a misunderstanding in the Donny line allowed Maliq Holden through on the right wing. Frantically the Knights scrambled back but by the time the winger was hauled down the Pirates were deep in the home 22m and with the clock ticking to 80 the stage looked set for a drop goal.
The Pirates battered their way into position but with final play called up stepped John Kelly with a jackal penalty to seal the Donny win.
A huge victory for Steve Boden’s Knights who will enjoy the week off having made a perfect start to the season.
Knights XV | 15 Billy McBryde, 14 Kyle Evans, 13 Charlie Foley (Mark Best 53’), 12 Connor Edwards, 11 Jack Spittle, 10 Sam Olver, 9 Gus Warr (James Mitchell 56’), 1 Bomber Hislop (c) (Conrad Cade 65’), 2 Ben Hunter (George Roberts), 3 Gaz Denman (Joe Jones 55’), 4 Matt Challinor (Will Britton 62’), 5 Jerry Sexton, 6 John Kelly, 7 Sam Graham (Conor Joyce 53’), 8 Guido Volpi.
Replacements | 16 George Roberts 17 Conrad Cade 18 Joe Jones 19 Will Britton 20 Conor Joyce 21 James Mitchell 22 Mark Best 23 Howard Packman
Tries; Kelly 7’, Edwards 61’
Pens; Olver 76’
Cons; Olver 8’, 61’
Pirates XV15 Tommy Wyatt 14 Alex O’Meara 13 Rory Parata 12 Nico De Battista (c) (Shae Tucker 31’) 11 Maliq Holden 10 Will Cargill 9 JB Bruzulier 1 Marlen Walker (Jack Andrew 17’’) 2 Dan Frost (Tom Channon 63’) 3 Jay Tyack (Sam Rodman 63’) 4 Fa’atiga Lemalu (Matt Bolwell 54’) 5 Danny Cutmore 6 Josh Caulfield 7 John Stevens (Antonio Kiri Kiri 50’) 8 Tom Duncan
Replacements| 16 Tom Channon 17 Jack Andrew 18 Sam Rodman 19 Matt Bolwell 20 Antonio Kiri Kiri 21 Rhodri Davies 22 Harry Bazalgette 23 Shae Tucker
Tries; Duncan 14’, Penalty 31’
Pens; Cargill 53’
Referee | Anthony Woodthorpe
Assistant Referees | Claire Daniels & Simon Adams
Fourth Official | Daniel Woods
Photo credit Ickledot