London Welsh – 05/09/2015

33Doncaster Knights

35London Welsh

2:30 pm · September 5, 2015

Knights 33 London Welsh 35

The Castle Park faithful were treated to an eighty-try thriller on Saturday as the Knights came within two points of creating a notable upset on the opening weekend of the new Championship season.

In a scintillating 80 minutes of rugby the Knights eventually had to settle for two bonus points as The Exiles held on for a 33-35 victory.

Donny opened the scoring in a lively beginning to the fixture when Dougie Flockhart coolly slotted a penalty for an infringement on the floor. The scores were leveled shortly after as Joe Carlisle opened his side’s account after Colin Quigley was rather dubiously penalized at the back of a ruck.

The contest continued in quite an even but entertaining fashion with the Knights creating plenty of attacking opportunity but similarly looking under threat when the Welsh backs were permitted space. One key threat in the visitors back line was outside centre Guy Armitage. Bevon’s younger brother proved to be a thorn in the Knights side all afternoon and touched down for his first of an impressive hat trick just after the quarter hour mark. With the home pack committed at the break down Welsh quickly used their numbers out wide and a nice miss pass found it’s way into Armitage’s hands who then showed an impressive turn of foot to race over in the corner. Former England international Olly Barkley added the extras.

A further three points went the way of the visitors as the Knights defence were caught offside at the ruck, this meant Welsh had established a ten point lead despite Donny’s good play. A reaction was needed from Griff’s charges and a reaction was produced! Having had a close range driving line out turned over the Knights were soon back on the attack and good footwork saw full back Paul Jarvis break and offload to Declan Cusack. The fly half continued the move forward with a clever dummy before handing on to Andy Bulumakau who showed his finishers instinct to cut back inside and dot down. Dougie Flockhart nicely converted from out wide, 10-13.

The Knights took the lead for the second time of the afternoon just five minutes later, Bulumakau skipped past a handful of Exiles defenders before being brought down deep in the visitors 22m. Quickly recycled ball was put through hands with Latu Makaafi finishing the move in the corner; Flockhart pulled the extra points to the left of the uprights.

From the restart Welsh were very quickly handed opportunity to retake the lead as a nicely taken catch by Michael Hills was penalised for crossing against the Skipper’s lifters. Carlisle made no mistake.

Things were made much worse just two minutes later when an home attacking line fell short and Welsh made a quick transition from defence to attack. The ball found it’s way to Armitage who again demonstrated his ability to evade tacklers. Breaking from his own half he brushed past four defenders and touched down. Carlisle’s successful conversion meant the Knights faced an eight-point deficit with the interval approaching.

The next score would be crucial to the game’s outcome and thankfully the Knights forwards came up with the goods. The visitors had struggled to stop the Donny driving line out all afternoon and on 36 minutes Makaafi pounced down the blindside of a close range maul and barged over for his second of the afternoon. A fine nudged from the touchline by Flockhart sailed through the sticks and the two sides went in to the interval with just a point separating them.

Donny drew fist blood in the second half as Dougie slotted a relatively routine penalty kick for a ruck infringement by the hosts putting his side back in the lead. Carlisle had a chance to readdress the balance with a penalty just moments later but his attempt sailed wide however the visitors were on the score sheet not long after. Good build up play and a powerful carry in midfield had Donny defenders scrambling across the 22m as possession was spun to the right but they could not stop winger Nic Reynolds crossed from close range.

Given the free flowing momentum of the game it was not surprising to see the Knights back on the offensive just moments after conceding. A powerful carry from WillGrff John was well supported by Jon Phelan and Michael Hills taking the home side to within a metre of the try line. On the front foot, a score looked all but certain just as soon as possession was spun wide but cynical play on the floor by scrum half Rob Lewis killed the ball. The number nine was sent to the bin for his indiscretion but the Knights had to settle for three points rather than a potential seven.

Welsh secured a bonus point on 68 minutes and it was that man Armitage once again. Entering the line at full pace the destructive outside centre left a series of Knights defenders in his wake to complete his hat trick and ultimately seal victory for his side. The game however was by no means over as the Knights refused to accept their fate. A missed conversion from Carlisle meant the score stood at 28-35 with ten minutes left to play.

Doncaster secured strong field position from a midfield penalty and produced another well-constructed driving line out. Having rode the initial defensive hit, the Knights started to rumble forward and as the bodies piled in the visitors could not stop the drive with replacement back row Alex Shaw dotting down. From wide on the left hand side Dougie’s conversation was agonizingly close but fell just wide to leave Donny trailing by two with five minutes left on the clock.

In the final few minutes the Knights attempted to breech the Welsh defence once more but the visitors held their line well and forced a turnover. As soon as the clock struck 80 minutes Lewis put the ball to touch to bring the game to a close, ending Welsh’s long run of defeats.

Whilst disappointing to have so narrowly lost out the Knights will take solace in the performance as well as the two bonus points acquired and if every Castle Park fixture is as entertaining as that this season the home fans are in for a treat!

Match Statistics

Knights XV; 15) Paul Jarvis, 14) Dougie Flockhart, 13) Andy Bulumakau, 12) Mat Clark (Tyson Lewis 74’), 11) Will Hurrell, 10) Declan Cusack, 9) Michael Heaney (Sam Edgerley 74’), 1) Richard List (Joe Sproston 76’), 2) Ben Hunter (Jack Bergmanas 76’), 3) Colin Quigley (WillGriff John 60’), 4) Matt Challinor (Tyler Hotson 60’), 5) Jon Phelan, 6) Latu Makaafi (Alex Shaw 53’), 7) Michael Hills ©, 8) Ollie Stedman.

Replacements; 16) Jack Bergmanas, 17) Joe Sproston, 18) WillGriff John, 19) Tyler Hotson, 20) Alex Shaw, 21 Tyson Lewis, 22) Sam Edgerley.

Tries; Makaafi 28’, 36’, Bulumakau 23’, Shaw 75’

Conv; Flockhart 23’, 36’

Pens; Flockhart 3’, 53’, 66’

London Welsh; 15) Joe Carlisle, 14) Nic Reynolds (Martyn Thomas 66’), 13) Guy Armitage, 12) Seb Jewell, 11) Chris Elder, 10) Olly Barkley, 9) Rob Lewis, 1) Nathan Trevett, 2) Nathan Morris (Harry Allen 53’), 3) Ben Cooper (Eddie Aholelei 69’), 4) Ben West, 5) Matt Corker (C), 6) Will Skuse (Josh McNally 70’), 7) Darren Waters (Ryan Hodson 67’), 8) Kieran Murphy.

Replacements: 16) Harry Allen, 17) Darryl Marfo, 18) Eddie Aholelei, 19) Josh McNally, 20) Ryan Hodson, 21) Ryan Glynn, 22) Martyn Thomas.

Tries; Armitage 17’, 31’, 68’ Reynolds 55’

Conv; Barkley 17’, Carlisle 31’, 55’

Pens; Carlisle 8’, 21’, 29’

Sin bin; Lewis 66’

Attendance: 1,019

Referee: Greg Macdonald

Touch Judges: Peter Allan & Robin Goodliffe

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