Connacht Eagles – 21/11/2015

22Doncaster Knights

5Connacht Eagles

2:30 pm · November 21, 2015

Doncaster Knights 22 Connacht Eagles 5

Doncaster Knights kicked off their home British and Irish Cup campaign with an effective showing against a young and spirited Connacht Eagles. In chilly November conditions the Knights guaranteed all five points whilst the Irish visitors refused to roll over and finished the fixture in the ascendancy.

The Knights coaching staff made a number of changes for the encounter to see a more familiar XV run out to the side that had drawn 22-22 away at Jersey in round one and the home side started brightly. There was a willingness to play on the front foot from the Knights meaning half backs Michael Heaney and Dec Cusack could enjoy clean quick ball but they were met by a keen Eagles defence; which would remain keen for the duration. Several promising Donny attacks fell by the wayside due indiscipline and Connacht began to find their feet following an initial home attacking barrage, however it was an of the Eagles error own that created the first try of the game. On what was the visitors first significant raid of the Knights 22m the ball was spilt as it was sent wide, lightning reactions and good handling by Dougie Flockhart set Paul Jarvis in motion. The full back had more or less the length of the pitch between him and the try line but once he put his foot down there was little question he would be caught. In extremely windy conditions Flockhart did well to convert and the Knights lead by seven.

The remainder of the first half did not seem to be played with the same level of execution as shown in the opening ten minutes. The visitors created opportunity but there was little denying that the Knights were in control of proceedings, exemplified by their rock solid set piece, however the breakdown began to get very messy with both sides competing fiercely and some eye brow raising officiating. Jarvis continued to provide an attacking threat for the Knights with Will Hurrell regularly contributing with some trademark carries in centre field but with the majority of the play in the middle third and the cold setting in there wasn’t too much to warm the crowd.

A second breakthrough of the game came on 34 minutes, just as many of the De Mulder Lloyd stand were beginning to consider their half time refreshments after the Knights turned down some very kickable penalties in favour of going to the corner. The tactic paid off as, following a well-worked patient driving line out, the Galway pack eventually hauled down the Knights maul but lost flanker Rory Moloney to the sin bin for his part. Cusack put the Knights back in the corner and this time they got over the try line but were held up in goal. From the resulting scrum the Knights showed their class, a solid set piece preceded a nice backs move with Hurrell brought down just short and in the next phase the ball was quickly put through hands for Tyson Lewis to profit. Flockhart was unable to convert and the Knights went into the warmth of the changing rooms 12-0 to the good.

Doncaster began the second stanza in the same attacking vein as they finished the first and were over once again very quickly after the restart. Falcons loanee Glen Young, who has continued to impress in recent weeks, capped another solid performance with his first competitive try for the club. Following a nice attack play was switched blind just as the Knights approached the Connacht 22m, Michael Heaney found hooker Ben Hunter on a short line who broke the gain line before handing on to the support Young who raced over. The wind continued to interfere with Flockhart’s usually assured goal kicking but the Knights, preventing a major collapse, seemed to have the game won at 17-0.

The Knights made a number of substitutions early in the second period and whilst play may have been a little disjointed at times they never really seemed at risk of conceding and secured a four try bonus point shortly before the hour mark. In a similar play to the Young try, play was switched down the blindside and this time Sam Edgerley did well to create space and release Jarvis who scored his second of the afternoon. From the corner against the wind Dougie’s conversion stood little chance, 22-0.

Under flood lights and with the cold really beginning to bite the latter stages weren’t quite the veritable feast of action that Knights fans have been treated to so often this season. The home side begin to fall foul of the referees whistle more frequently and the biggest cheers of the final quarter came following two unexpected open play bursts from tight head Colin Quigley. Credit must go to the visitors whose intensity in defence did not waiver throughout and stuck to their guns admirably despite the scoreline. Indeed it was Connacht who ended the game the stronger and they touched down for a deserved score with little under five minutes to play. Full back Cian Romaine carried powerfully only to be stopped two metres shy of a score but in the following phase number eight Steve McVeigh crashed over, the kick went wide, 22-5.

The Eagles could have been in again shortly after had it not been for a piece of defensive work from Sam Edgerley which epitomised the Knights ‘never say die’ attitude. A powerful midfield break created a gap for flanker Rory Moloney to gallop through leaving a clear run in for the line. Towering well above 6ft Moloney had a clear height and weight advantage on the fleet footed Edgerley but the utility back tracked down his man to fell him inches short of the line a prevent a score.

It was far from a classic at Castle Park but it was a momentum boosting performance ahead of crucial, back to back, Championship performances starting with Moseley next Saturday. The five points also leave the Knights in pole position for progression from the Pool.

Match Statistics

Knights XV; 15) Paul Jarvis (Brad Field 70’), 14) Dougie Flockhart, 13) Andy Bulumakau, 12) Will Hurrell, 11) Tyson Lewis (Sam Edgerley 40’) , 10) Dec Cusack, 9) Michael Heaney, 1) Rich List (Joe Sproston 70’), 2) Ben Hunter (Vili Veikoso 70’), 3) WillGriff John (Colin Quigley 51’), 4) Tyler Hotson, 5) Glen Young (Jon Phelan 58’), 6) Latu Makaafi (Ollie Stedman 45’), 7) Michael Hills ©, 8) Alex Shaw.

Replacements; 16) Vili Veikoso, 17) Joe Sproston 18) Colin Quigley, 19) Jon Phelan, 20) Ollie Stedman 21) Sam Edgerley, 22) Brad Field.

Tries; Jarvis x2, Lewis & Young.

Conv; Flockhart (1)

Connacht Eagles XV; 15 Ciarán Gaffney (Cian Romaine 58’), 14 Adam Leavy, 13 Cormac Brennan, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Ed O’Keeffe, 10 Conor McKeon (Aidan Moynihan 70’), 9 Caolin Blade (Stephen Kerins 71’), 1 Jacob Walshe, 2 Pat O’Toole (John Healy 71’), 3 Saba Meunargia, 4 Peter Claffey, 5 Cillian Gallagher, 6 James Connolly (Marc Kelly 61’), 7 Rory Moloney, 8 Sean O’Brien (c) (Stephen McVeigh 71’)

Replacements; 16 John Healy, 17 Matthew Burke, 18 Cian Romaine, 19 Marc Kelly, 20 Stephen Kerins, 21 Aidan Moynihan, 22 Stephen McVeigh

Tries; McVeigh

Attendance: 1,245

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