Jersey Reds – 02/01/2016

17Jersey Reds

17Doncaster Knights

2:30 pm · January 2, 2016

Jersey 17 Knights 17

For the second time this season the Knights travelled to Jersey’s St Peter home and, after 80 battling minutes, for the second time the game ended in a draw.

The game marked the eagerly awaited flight of the ‘Knights Air’, an aircraft chartered by the Club for the trip which carried the squad and playing staff in addition to 95 fans to and from the fixture. All arrangements went to plan, though high winds on the Island made for a rather bumpy inbound landing much to the displeasure of full back and nervous flyer Paul Jarvis.

The conditions were the game’s determining factor, in heavy rain the wind drove straight down the middle of the pitch at St Peter. The playing surface, which looked surprisingly impressive on arrival, was soon ripped to shreds and it was perhaps predictable that both sides did almost all their attacking when playing with the wind at their backs. Indeed, both sides registered all 17 of their points playing with the conditions with the Knights salvaging a result with a late penalty try.

Playing into the breeze, Donny did manage create some early go forward, solid carries and decent work at a testing lineout situation put them in good field position. A powerful trundle forward by Colin Quigley generated quickly recycled ball which made its way to Tyson Lewis who tiptoed the touch line before being hit out a metre short of the try line.

After the opening burst by the Knights the first half belong very much to the hosts. Their powerful pack looked to carry with numbers at every opportunity and with the blowing wind the Jersey kickers were only too happy to test the Knights back three with looming high balls. The Doncaster defence was resolute but even when turnovers were forced it was very difficult to relieve the pressure and were continuously forced to run the ball from deep.

The first Jersey breakthrough came just after the 25 minute mark and would prove to be very significant. A maul from an infield penalty surged powerfully towards the Doncaster line, it was eventually dropped however referee Dean Richards deemed the Knights tactics illegal and awarded a penalty try and sin binned skipper Michael Hills for illegal entry. Brendan Cope added the extras.

In such testing conditions and in a forward dominated contest it was always going to be tricky to compete without a member of the back row and five minutes later Jersey were in again. Desperate Doncaster defence gave up back-to-back penalties and from a similar tap penalty/maul move the Islanders touched down through flanker Gary Graham; Cope was again on target with the extras.

With the game clock ticking quickly towards half time and Hills back on the field the Knights looked to restore order. The scrum, which had been hotly contested all afternoon, looked to most in the ground as if it was going to offer the Knights a penalty on half way but the man in the middle had other ideas and gave the advantage to Jersey but when they were pinged for truck and trailer at the breakdown it seemed as if that would be it. Unfortunately the Knights were just unable to run down the clock and gave away a penalty on the floor, Cope hit the three and the first half ended 17-0.

Playing with the second half wind the Knights unsurprisingly dominated the early territory and possession after the restart however time and time again found themselves frustrated by the Jersey defence. Several driving line out opportunities went awry and the hosts kept possession annoyingly well in their own half.

The Knights suffered a setback on the hour mark as number eight Ollie Stedman suffered an injury having taken a quick tap. The backrower had to be stretchered from the field of play but we are pleased to report he is out of hospital and will be following concussion protocol with the physio team.

Continued attacks went the Knights way but with the deficit still 17 points and the clock ticking on a comeback began to look less and less likely. Having tried for the corner with several penalties it was decided to instead have a go at points when another opportunity was given post line out, Dougie Flockhart kept his cool to put the Knights on the board and this seemed to be the catalyst needed.

Having made a raft of changes, including all of the front row and the introduction of Latu Makaafi, the Knights looked to play Jersey at their own game and set up an infield maul. The drive gathered momentum and when it was dropped just inside the home 22m the penalty was awarded. Cusack went to the corner and the resulting lineout drive got Donny to within a metre. The forwards then set about picking and carryin, trying to breakthrough and eventually they did; Makaafi going over yet again this season. Flockhart expertly negotiated the wind from out wide to make it a one score game with ten minutes remaining.

As has been seen so often from this group of players the Knights refused to give up and spent the final stages of the game laying siege to the Jersey line. The hosts defended desperately but fell afoul of the referees whistle which gave Doncaster field position. With the lineout a bit of a lottery against the wind the Knights tapped and carried through Makaafi and drove forwards through the maul; players flooded in both backs and forwards. With pretty much every Knight on the field committed to the maul Jersey replacement Uili Kolo’ofa’I pulled the drive down giving referee Richards no option but to award the penalty try and show the backrower a yellow card. Flockhart made no mistake under pressure and the Knights salvaged a draw from the jaws of defeat.

The result means the Knights stay second and have now extended the unbeaten run to 11 games in all competitions, nine wins and two draws – both away at Jersey.

Speaking after the game DoR Clive Griffiths commented. “Rugby becomes a lottery in conditions like these, but the boys dug deep and showed great character.

“Neither team looked like scoring at one end, although we had a half-chance early in the game. I thought our bench were magnificent and fair play to Dougie Flockhart for landing his kicks at the end.”

The Knights play Jersey again on January 23rd to conclude the end of the four game mini-series.

Happy New Year!

Match Statistics

Jersey starting XV; 15) Rich Lane, 14) Tom Howe, 13) Fautua Otto (Mark McCrea 67), 12) Lewis Robling, 11) Ross Adair, 10) Brendan Cope, 9) Jack Moate (Joel Dudley 71’), 1) Sam Lockwood (Nacho Lancuba 65’), 2) Nick Selway (Martin Garcia-Veiga 56’), 3) Oliver Tomaszczyk (Danny Herriot 64’), 4) Will Rowlands, 5) Pierce Phillips (Uili Kolo’ofa’I 46’), 6) Gary Graham, 7) James Freeman, 8) Alex Rae (capt) (Tommy Spinks 79’) Replacements; 16) Nacho Lancuba, 17) Martin Garcia-Veiga, 18) Danny Herriott, 19) Uili Kolo’ofa’I, 20) Tommy Spinks, 21) Joel Dudley, 22) Mark McCrea

Tries; Penalty 26’, Graham 31’

Conv; Cope 27’, 31’

Pens; Cope 40’

Knights Starting XV; 15. Paul Jarvis, 14. Douglas Flockhart, 13. Mat Clark, 12. Will Hurrell, 11. Tyson Lewis, 10. Declan Cusack (Simon Humberstone 78’) , 9. Michael Heaney (Sam Edgerley 78’), 1. Richard List (Joe Sproston 64’), 2. Ben Hunter (Vili Veikoso 64’), 3. Colin Quigley (WillGriff John 64’), 4. Jon Phelan 5. Matt Challinor, 6. Alex Shaw (Latu Makaafi 56’), 7. Michael Hills (c), 8. Ollie Stedman (Tyler Hotson 60’).

Replacements; 16. Villiame Veikoso 17. Joe Sproston, 18. WillGriff John, 19. Tyler Hotson, 20. Latu Makaafi, 21. Simon Humberstone 22. Sam Edgerley,

Tries; Makaafi 67’, Penalty 77’

Conv; Flockhart 67’, 78’

Pens; Flockhart 66’

Referee: Dean Richard

Attendance: 1,870

Image by Sue Trower

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