Coventry 30/04/22

22Doncaster Knights


2:30 pm · April 30, 2022

Error-Effected Knights Suffer Defeat at Castle Park

It was a tough day at Castle Park for Doncaster Knights as slow phases and handling errors thwarted their attempts to come out on top of Coventry in the first leg of the Championship Cup quarter finals.

Each time the Knights looked to have gotten a foothold in the game, either Coventry would strike or an infringement from the Donny men would hamper their good efforts.

Despite being a key aspect of their game for most of the season, the lineout proved a point of contention for the Knights today as they struggled to receive their own ball or contest Coventry’s.

The visitors were the first on the board after 11 minutes. They got the better shove from the set piece which gave Jordan Poole the perfect chance to hurl himself over the line for the opening score. With a conversion from Tony Fenner, the were seven points to the better.

Green’s usual pace with ball provision was missed today, and cost the scrum half a big blow as Ryan Burrows heard the referee’s call for the ball being out the ruck and flew out of the line to hit the young Knights scrum half and produce a Coventry penalty.

It was an unforeseeable happening, but Knights also took the blow of losing both props after just 15 minutes played. Gaz Denman was the first to leave the field after being cut open in the head, while Joe Wrafter followed seconds later for a HIA that he would ultimately fail.

Ten minutes on from their first score, Coventry were crossing the line again. With a quick camp on the Doncaster line, Fred Betteridge saw the chance of a score and took it. With Fenner’s conversion, Coventry led the way 0-14.

Guido Volpi made a confident break in the midfield on the back of a short pass from Sam Olver. However, he chose to take the contact option rather than to pass and his pop pass was mishandled, which gave the penalty the way of Coventry.

With four minutes left of the first 40, the Knights got themselves some points. With forwards and backs combining in the phases, it was a closely timed short pass from Harry Davey to Maliq Holden on the wing that sent the former dancing down the edge for a try in the corner.

It was a tough conversion for Olver whose attempt from the tee was just shy of the uprights.

In the death of the half, however, Coventry re-opened the gap in points. Green’s chip kick was collected by opposition hands and the visitors broke down the wing. Evading a number of Donny tackle attempts, Andy Forsyth found himself one-to-one with Olver on the line and, in a 50-50 chance, the Knights man turned left as Forsyth went right for the score.

Fenner’s conversion ended the half with Coventry running into the changing rooms leaving the Knights with a lot of work to do to recover from a 5-21 scoreline.

On the 50 minute mark, the Knights started to close the gap. Big pressure from an on-rushing Knights line forced Coventry into a quick kick. Olver collected a duly put one into the sky for Holden to storm down. Having taken the bounce of the ball, the winger stepped a defender to run the ball over the line mid-tackle.

A successful conversion from Olver took the standings to 12-21 with a half hour left on the clock.

Ten minutes later, Olver opted for the chance of the posts rather than another attempt at a lineout in the corner and was able to close the gap by an additional three points.

Those points were somewhat in vain, however, as just minutes later, Coventry pulled ahead again. Find their driving maul halted, the visitors went to the short phases and repeatedly hit the Doncaster line. Seeing a shred of daylight in the Knights line, Betteridge sniped through it for the score, which Fenner converted. 

The Knights pulled back within reach with eight minutes left. Some speedy ball and multiple offside calls against Coventry gave them the opportunity to be threatening the opposition line through the forwards. It was tough work, but it paid off as the Donny men crashed over.

It looked to be Sam Graham at the bottom of the pile – marking his first try of the season in possibly the last home match of the year – and Olver shortly stepped up to the tee, having no trouble in converting the score.

There was no doubting that the Knights wanted another score, that was more than evident to see but perhaps their adrenaline got the better of them. With a minute left, and after some hard-hitting work to attempt to give themselves good position, a ball over the head to Best was the only asking Thom Emery needed. 

The Coventry man ran the length of the half, Holden in pursuit, but the replacement reached the line before the Doncaster winger and, with Fenner’s conversion taken with the clock in the red, Coventry sealed their 22-35 victory.

Match Statistics

Knights XV | 15 Billy McBryde; 14 Harry Davey, 13 Joe Margetts, 12 Fraser Strachan, 11 Maliq Holden; 10 Sam Olver, 9 Joe Green; 1 Joe Wrafter, 2 Will Holling, 3 Gaz Denman, 4 John Kelly, 5 Ben Murphy, 6 Sam Hudson, 7 Thom Smith (c), 8 Guido Volpi.

Replacements | 16 George Roberts, 17 Conor Davidson, 18 Henry Paul, 19 Josh Peters, 20 Jack Davies, 21 Alex Dolly, 22 Mark Best, 23 Sam Graham.

Pens: Olver

Tries: Holden (x2), Graham

Conv: Olver (x2)


Coventry XV | 15 Louis Brown; 14 Louis James, 13 Andy Forsyth, 12 Will Owen, 11 James Martin; 10 Tony Fenner, 9 Dan Babos; 1 Toby Trinder, 2 Jordan Poole, 3 Matt Johnson, 4 Adam Peters, 5 James Tyas, 6 Fred Betteridge, 7 Josh Bainbridge, 8 Ryan Burrows.

Replacements | 16 Suva Ma’asi, 17 Luc Jeannot, 18 Jake Bridges, 19 Rhys Thomas, 20 Thom Ball, 21 Finlay Ogden, 22 Rob Stevenson, 23 Thom Emery.

Tries: Poole, Betteridge (x2), Forsyth, Emery

Conv: Fenner (x5)


Referee: Adam Wookey.

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