Cornish Pirates – 17/10/2015

28Doncaster Knights

11Cornish Pirates

2:00 pm · October 17, 2015

Doncaster Knights responded to last Friday’s derby disappointment with an emphatic 28-11 home triumph, over Cornish Pirates.

The resounding bonus-point win was arguably no more than the Knights deserved, having dominated proceedings for extended periods. The Knights forwards bludgeoned their visiting counterparts into submission, setting the platform for an impressive victory in front of their Castle Park faithful.

Hulking back-rower Ollie Stedman proved to be instrumental in the Knights’ pack-orientated game plan, crashing over the chalk on two occasions. It would be fair to call this a monstrous collective effort from the Knights’ big men. The tight eight were firmly in the ascendancy from the outset, earning penalties at scrum time as early as the second minute. This set the standard, and the platform, for Stedman and his counterparts in the loose trio – though their performance levels didn’t seem to drop throughout proceedings.

The Knights started brightly and looked energetic; clattering into the collisions and competing well at the breakdown and were also assured in possession. Tyler Hotson’s early charge down on an Alex Day clearance attempt seemed to set the tone for the visitors’ afternoon in South Yorkshire. The all-Canadian second row pairing of Hotson and Jon Phelan were industrious during those early exchanges; disrupting their opponent’s lineout and earning a free kick at their first feed to the scrum.

On 7 minutes that positive start improved dramatically. The Pirates conceded, what could have been considered, a very kickable penalty; deep inside their own territory. However, Michael Hills and Co. elected to go for the corner – and the result justified the Knights’ bold call. A well-executed lineout afforded the Knights a great opportunity to form their fearsome rolling maul and they responded in kind, rumbling forward ominously as the drive came on. The visitors were powerless to resist the sheer force of the Knights’ forward momentum and STEDMAN burrowed over the line for the opening score, rounding off a ferocious effort from the pack. Dougie Flockhart made no mistake from the tee, ensuring that the Knights’ early pressure was rewarded with maximum points.

The Knights continued to threaten from the restart and scrum-half Sam Edgerley’s sniping run from the base of a ruck looked to unlock the Pirates defence; only for the former England 7’s star to find none of his colleagues up in support. Edgerley, who registered a double-try return from the wing last time out, looked equally assured in his more accustomed role at no.9.

Despite the Knights’ early dominance, the score remained at 7-0; and it would be the visitors who troubled the score-board next. Pirates’ fly half Kieran Hallett dispatched two long-range penalty kicks with aplomb; the second coming after Hotson was penalised for holding onto possession at scrum-time. The deficit was subsequently cut to just 1 point after 14 minutes and the visitors seemed to have finally grown into the game.

Having failed to convert their forward dominance into a commanding lead on the scoreboard; the Knights were proving to be their own undoing as they lacked a clinical edge. Fullback Paul Jarvis crafted the space, working a gap and accelerating through the defensive line with an incisive run; only for the opposition to effectuate a pivotal turnover on the deck, after the Knights’ 15 was brought down in promising field position. Stedman showed some deft handling skills while offloading a neat pass at the back of a lineout, subsequently presenting centre Will Hurrell with his first opportunity to run at the Pirates’ defence. The Knights then wasted a glorious opportunity in threatening field position, as hooker Ben Hunter’s line-out throw was deemed not straight. The resulting scrum saw the visitors’ ill-discipline gift the Knights a penalty opportunity and Hills elected to resist the temptation of a straight-forward kick for 3 again; entrusting Flockhart with the kick to the corner. Another driving maul from the lineout situation was almost inevitable. Predictably, they did just that.

After securing clean ball from the set-piece, the rolling maul was formed and the Knights pack marched ominously towards the whitewash. STEDMAN marshalled the powerful driving maul perfectly; retaining possession at the base before crashing over the paint for his, and the Knights, second five-pointer. The score came from an almost identical situation to the first and served only to underline the clear advantage the Knights pack held over their counterparts.

The Knights led 14-6 as the teams returned to the sheds for the interval. Although, the home side did have to withstand some heavy pressure late on as the visitors looked to up the ante, and potentially snag a score of their own, with half time approaching. Jon Phelan was called upon to steal possession at a lineout in a promising position for the Cornish side, while Paul Jarvis expertly cleaned up a dangerous chip and chase move as the Pirates worked to force the issue.

Managing to negotiate that tough period before the break without conceding points proved decisive for the Knights. Their resilience prior to the interval was replaced with rampant intent. HURRELL received a fine pass from flyhalf Ollie Bryant and showed a real turn of pace, and some quite magical footwork to burst through several failed tackle attempts, as he raced in from 25m out to notch the Knights’ third try of the afternoon. Flockhart knocked over the conversion confidently, stretching the Knights out to a 21-6 lead.

Almost immediately after the restart, the Knights were threatening again. Tyson Lewis latched onto a lovely Bryant offload, cutting inside his man before hitting the gas as he surged towards the line. The jet-heeled winger was cut down agonisingly short, but the Knights secured possession on the Pirates’ 5m line and the power of the forwards would come to the fore again. After cleaning out a desperate effort from the opposition to create the turnover, Knights captain HILLS went for the pick and go from the ruck; bundling himself over the chalk for the vital, bonus point clinching try. Flockhart bisected the sticks with the ensuing conversion, keeping his perfect record from the tee intact and boosting his side to a 28-6 lead.

The Knights were firmly in control now and the scoreboard reflected that notion. Although the visitors had been out-muscled and out-played for the majority of the contest, they did manage to notch a consolation score in the 61st minute. Pirates’ replacement GRAULICH was the beneficiary and rounded off a lovely sequence of inter-change passing between their half backs, as he broke away to score.

The opposition had a glimmer of hope with the scores at 28-11 with less than twenty minutes remaining; though Hallett’s failed conversion attempt meant the deficit remained at 17 points. However, Joe Atkinson’s yellow card, having only just been introduced as a replacement, essentially ended the game as a contest.

The Knights proceeded to close out the game confidently and professionally. The late sin-binning of the visitors’ try-scorer Graulich, for pulling down a maul as Stedman aimed for his hat-trick in injury-time, essentially typified what proved to be a difficult day at the office for the Cornishmen.

The Knights move up to 3rd in the Championship standings after the win, consolidating their position in the upper echelons of the league with a 4th victory in 7 games. Conversely, the Cornishmen are struggling and find themselves in the bottom two having won just twice so far this term.

The Knights will host London Scottish next Saturday, in what should be a sterner examination of their blossoming credentials.

Match Statistics

Doncaster Knights: Jarvis; Flockhart, Clark, Hurrell (Bulumakau 77’), Lewis; Bryant, Edgerley (Field 80’); List (Bergmanas 68’), Hunter (Veikoso 68’), Quigley (John 67’), Hotson, Phelan (Young 74’), Shaw, Hills, Stedman. Replacement unused: Makaafi.

Cornish Pirates: May (Bodilly 55’); Arnott, Riley, James, Evans; Hallett, Day (Oulton 75’); Walker (Innard 53’), Elloway (Andrew 53’) Jamieson (Paver 64’), McGlone (Atkinson 63’), Beukeboom, Cheesman, Simmonds, Carpenter (Graulich 20’).

Referee: Ian Tempest (RFU)

Attendance: 1,219

Dean Page.

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