Connacht Eagles – 16/01/2016

0Connacht Eagles

40Doncaster Knights

1:00 pm · January 16, 2016

Connacht Eagles 0 Doncaster Knights 40

The Knights named a markedly changed side to the one that had featured in round 13 of the Championship against Jersey for the penultimate pool clash of the British & Irish Cup. Competitive debuts were handed to Simon Humberstone and Joe Sproston and for the first time in his Knights career hooker Ben Hunter Captained the side.

In chilly conditions, although probably warmer than those back home, the Knights began brightly – aided by an early home error. The kick off was dropped allowing a platform to attack in the game’s opening minute and from a solid scrum the Donny backs did just that. Lively home defense prevented a score but gave up a penalty for offside that was put to touch by Humberstone. As has been the case so often this season the Knights lineout functioned with aplomb and leading try-scorer Latu Makaafi barged over for the opening score. Humberstone successful navigated a tricky conversion through the uprights 0-7.

The hosts hit back with some nice play of their own as scrum half Conor Lowndes spotted a gap downfield and harried Paul Jarvis into touch down in the Knights 22m. From the resulting lineout the Eagles set about the Knights line but were again met by some fierce defending and having spun the ball from touch line to touch line and generated several phases the hosts punted possession away.

Doncaster’s second score followed soon after, Mat Clark fielded a kick deep in his own half and returned it with interest. The winger ghosted his way through the defensive line before handing on to Andy Bulumakau who put his foot down and would not be stopped, Humberstone was off target this time but The Knights had a substantial lead with only quarter of an hour played.

The front row can take much of the credit for the third score, back to back scrum penalties resulted in Humberstone booting the forwards into fantastic range at the line out. The set piece, again, functioned without fault and the pack drove toward the Connacht try line, the hosts battled to stop the oncoming maul but the Knights did well to shift possession with Latu Makaafi breaking from the maul. He was supported by a number of bodies and Joe Sproston latched cleverly to collect crash through for a score on his first start. Humberstone’s conversion took the score to 0-19.

The hosts did create the odd opportunity but with every step found themselves confronted by lethal Doncaster defence which forced a number of errors, poor decisions and penalties out of the hosts. Having spent a significant period of time in their own 22m the Knights quickly turned defence into attack and from a ruck on half way Alex Shaw demonstrated good vision to charge through the centre of a midfield ruck. The number eight carried deep into the Connacht half before Sam Edgerley was able to catch him up and offer support, a well-released pass was collected by the scrum half who was never going to be caught with a clear run in to the line. That try secured the bonus point and Humberstone slotted the conversion to give the Knights a commanding 0-26 half time lead.

The rain and wind picked up notably for the second half and it did have an effect on the attacking flow of the game but the Knights continued to enjoy the upper hand. The piece was a continuous area of success and the Donny wide men got plenty of purchase with ball in hand. Despite this, the hosts definitely showed signs of improvement in the second stanza and had the Doncaster defence stretched following a break from Fionn Carr. The winger was able to get a pass out to Eoin McKeon before being tackled short but in the subsequent ruck Mat Clark was shown a yellow hard for hands in the ruck. Fly half Shane O’Leary put the penalty to touch but it came to nothing as the line out was put down and from the following scrum the Knights won a penalty.

As the hour mark arrived both sides made a number of changes and chances came at both ends. The hosts, arguably, enjoyed the better of possession but struggled for ideas in the face of a continually energetic Knights defence by contrast Doncaster were able to rip downfield at regular intervals and it wasn’t long much longer until they added to the score. Having only entered the field of play five minutes previous, Michael Hills dotted down for the fifth try of the game as he marshalled another powerful driving line out over the line. Simon Humberstone converted with what would be his final touch of the game.

The Knights saved their best till last with a final score ten minutes from time, Dec Cusack made a midfield break and interlinked with winger Mat Clark to carry the move forward. When the break was finally stopped quickly recycled ball was flung wide, a series of nice handling plays saw posession make it’s way to centre Bevon Armitage who capped off an impressive afternoon with a try. Cusack slotted the extras to make the final score 0-40.

In the dying second the Eagles looked to formulate a final attack but the Doncaster defence would not yield. The five point win sees the Knights now positioned as the number one seed in the British and Irish Cup with one round of Pool action remaining. Join us at Castle Park next Saturday as we welcome Jersey for the second time this season in the final round of the pool stages, kick off 2pm.

Match Statistics

Starting XV; 15) Darragh Leader, 14) Ciarán Gaffney, 13) Cormac Brennan (Conor McKeon 57’), 12) Api Pewhairangi, 11) Fionn Carr (Ed O’Keefe 55’) , 10) Shane O’Leary, 9) Conor Lowndes (Stephen Kerins 57’), 1) Conan O’Donnell, 2) Shane Delahunt (c) (Dave Heffernan 57’), 3) Conor Kenny (Jacob Walshe 13’) (Matthew Cosgrove 73’), 4) Cillian Gallagher, 5) Danny Qualter, 6) Cian Romaine, 7) Rory Moloney, 8) Eoin McKeon (Marc Kelly 40’)

Replacements; 16) Dave Heffernan, 17) Jacob Walshe, 18) Marc Kelly, 19) Matthew Cosgrove, 20) Stephen Kerins, 21) Conor McKeon, 22) Ed O’Keeffe




Starting XV; 15) Paul Jarvis, 14) Mat Clark, 13) Andy Bulumakau, 12) Bevon Armitage, 11) Will Hurrell, 10) Simon Humberstone (Dec Cusack 67’), 9) Sam Edgerley (Michael Heaney 67’), 1) Joe Sproston (Riccardo Brugnara 61’), 2) Ben Hunter (Ted Stagg 61’), 3) WillGriff John, 4) Glen Young (Joe Maksymiw 34’), 5) Jon Phelan, 6) Latu Makaafi, 7) Will Owen (Michael Hills 61’), 8) Alex Shaw.

Replacements; 16) Riccardo Brugnara, 17) Colin Quigley, 18) Ted Stagg 19) Joe Maksymiw, 20) Michael Hills, 21) Michael Heaney, 22) Dec Cusack.

Try; Makaafi 4’, Bulumakau 15’, Sproston 25’, Edgerley 36’, Hills 67, Armitage 70’

Conv; Humberstone 5’, 25’, 36’, 67 & Cusack 70’


Sin bin; Mat Clark 49’

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