Newport Gwent Dragons Premiership Select XV – 12/12/2015

21Doncaster Knights

16Newport Gwent Dragons Premiership Select XV

2:30 pm · December 12, 2015

Knights 21 Dragons 16.

The Knights extended their unbeaten run to eight games with a battling victory over Newport Gwent Dragons Premiership Select XV on a wet and miserable December day at Castle Park. The win puts the Knights to the top of Pool five in this year’s British & Irish Cup competition as the, previously undefeated Dragons, slip to second.

The crowd at Castle Park were in good spirits despite the bitter cold and heavy rain with over 350 fans packed into the Arms Park Suite to enjoy DRFC’s annual Christmas Dinner but the Newport started quickly in their attempt to spoil the party. A miscued up and under from Dec Cusack was caught by the wind and the Dragons did well on the floor to force a penalty. Fly half Arwell Robson elected to have a shot at goal and made no mistake to open the scoring.

The Knights reaction was swift and strong spinning together a lengthy spell of possession, nicely linking phases and making inroads down field with a series of strong carries. Latu Makaafi and Andy Bulumakau proved to be a handful for the Dragons defence and they eventually fell afoul of the referees whistle which gave Cusack an opportunity to put his forwards in range with a well-struck kick to touch. The pack secured the line out and set about driving towards the Newport line, at the back of the maul stood the familiar figure of Makaafi; poised and ready to strike. As the forward rumbled on the flanker barged his way over to touch down for his 13th try of the season; against the wind Flockhart could not convert.

The set piece, as it often has this season, was an area of that the Knights enjoyed plenty of success particularly in the first half. The home pack won a number of scrum penalties throughout the course of the afternoon and on the quarter hour mark Flockhart increased the Knights lead with an on target attempt, 8-3.

Despite the close score line the Knights certainly seemed to be creating the majority of attacking opportunity and did actually dot down again on twenty minutes. A powerful Makaafi break was continued by Sam Edgerley before the scrum half was hauled down just short. With numbers stacked to the right and advantage going the Knights way Cusack put a cross field kick towards Paul Jarvis who managed to fight his way past Aaron Warren and touch the ball down. However, he was judged to have done so illegally so play was brought back for the penalty. Another attacking phase post line out saw Glen Young hit very hard a metre or so from the Newport line but another penalty was awarded as the Dragons defence desperately tried to repel Donny raids. Cusack went back to the corner and this time the Knights would not be stopped. Once again it was Makaafi who benefitted from the well-formed driving maul to dive over for his second try of the afternoon and Flockhart added the extras.

The closing stages of the first half were not an advert for fluid rugby as the downpour refused to relent. Most of the play was in midfield with both sides seeing attacks fall foul of handling errors and wind-affected kicking, both defences look pretty solid throughout but one phase of slack tackling was capitalized upon by the visitors. Good vision from Charlie Davies saw the scrum half set off down the blindside at ruck in the Knights 22m, he managed to negotiate his way through two sloppy challenges and touched down. Robson successful converted to make the score 15-10.

On the stroke of half time the Donny scrum came up trumps once more and won a penalty in centre field, with the clock having ticked past forty minutes Cusack elected to have a crack at posts and did not disappoint. The successful kick bisected the up rights and the Knights went into the sheds leading 18-10, though it should probably have been more.

If the weather stifled the flow of the game in the first half it almost crippled it in the second. The wind picked up and the rain continued to lash down, with this in mind it was unsurprising that there were few attacking opportunities created when the sides resumed for the second stanza. Indeed, neither side added to their score until the 55 minutes mark when a rare home attack was ended as Dec Cusack’s pass to Andy Bulumakau was intentionally batted to ground. Flockhart resumed goal-kicking duties to extend the lead.

As previously mentioned, this talented Dragons outfit arrived at Castle Park having won each of their pool clashes prior and were not about to give up without a fight. The visitors finished the game in the ascendancy and had it not been for a combination of handling errors, indiscipline and the Knights solid set piece could perhaps have stolen an unlikely victory. Two successful penalties from Robson brought the Dragons to within five but the Knights showed their grit to hold on for an ugly win.

Fingers crossed for better weather next weekend as the sides go head to head in the return fixture.

Match Statistics

Knights XV; 15) Paul Jarvis, 14) Dougie Flockhart, 13) Andy Bulumakau, 12) Mat Clark, 11) Tyson Lewis, 10) Dec Cusack (Sam Olver 69’) , 9) Sam Edgerley (Michael Heaney 69’), 1) Rich List ©, 2) Vili Veikoso (Ben Hunter 58’), 3) Colin Quigley (Joe Sproston 61’), 4) Tyler Hotson (Matt Challinor 73’), 5) Glen Young, 6) Latu Makaafi, 7) Will Owen, 8) Alex Shaw (Michael Hills 48’)

Replacements; 16 ) Ben Hunter, 17) Joe Sproston, 18) Ted Stagg, 19) Matt Challinor, 20) Michael Hills, 21) Sam Olver, 22) Michael Heaney

Tries; Makaafi 6’, 23’

Conv; Flockhart 23’

Pens; Flockhart 15’, 55’ Cusack 40’

15) Geraint Rhys Jones, 14) Elliot Frewen, 13) Aled Brew, 12) Barney Nightingale (Connor Edwards 72’), 11) Aaron Warren, 10) Arwell Robson, 9) Charlie Davies (Owen Davies 77’), 1) Luke Garrett (Richard Cornock 40’), 2) Hugh Gustafson © (Rhys Buckley 48’), 3) Leon Brown (Alex Jeffries 72’), 4) Scott Andrews, 5) Adam Brown (Ashley Sweet 72’), 6) Luke Crocker (Scott Mathews 40’), 7) Nic Cudd, 8) Harri Keddie.

Replacements: 16) Rhys Buckley, 17) Richard Cornock, 18) Alex Jeffries, 19) Ashley Sweet, 20) Scott Matthews, 21) Owen Davies, 22) Connor Edwards.

Tries; Davies 38’

Conv; Robson 38’

Pens; Robson 1’, 56’, 65’

Image by Peter Eccles.

Our Partners