Nottingham Rugby – 26/12/2015

26Doncaster Knights

12Nottingham Rugby

2:30 pm · December 26, 2015

The Knights extended their unbeaten run to ten games in all competition as they dispatched Northern Championship rivals Nottingham 26-12 at Castle Park.

Second half tries from Tyson Lewis and Ollie Stedman secures victory for Griff’s charges in front of season high crowd of 2,921.

Doncaster versus Nottingham fixtures are usually hard-fought affairs and prior to this season the Green and Whites have enjoyed a favourable head to head record and the fixture certainly started tight enough. Despite enjoying the majority of possession and territory the Knights lacked a clinical touch at key points in the first half and were unable to pull away from a Nottingham side who defended hard and took their chances.

Dougie Flockhart opened the scoring after nine minutes as the Knights pack utilized their driving maul, which performed impressively all afternoon, and drew a foul from the opposing eight. Flockhart calmly struck his first of four successful first half penalties to put his side ahead.

The Nottingham response was swift, if a little unexpected. Miscommunication at the restart from the Knights saw the ball knocked forward and a scrum awarded to the visitors in the Donny 22m and under heavy pressure number Paul Grant was able to get the ball away. The Notts midfield carried powerfully before the ball was spun to lively winger Pila Longi who, with little room to manoeuvre, finished well. Dan Mugford was unable to add the extras.

The rest of the half went the Knights way; aided by a dominant performance at the set piece. The scrum enjoyed the upper hand throughout the game and the line out was a near constant source of front foot possession but despite this the Knights could not breach the Nottingham try line. Whilst resilient, the visiting defence often fell afoul of referee Matt O’Grady’s whistle, allowing Flockhart to keep the scoreboard ticking over and with half time looming the Knights lead 12-5.

Following a successful Flockhart three pointer on 38 minutes Nottingham were gifted an opportunity to reduce the gap as the Knights faltered again at the restart. Latu Makaafi made a powerful carry from his own 22m but Donny could not retain possession on the floor and Notts were awarded the scrum. In the dying seconds of the first half the Green and Whites lay siege to the Knights try line but could not find a way through so the sides headed back to the changing rooms with Doncaster up by seven.

The half time team talk seemed to do the trick for the Knights as they came out firing in the second forty, creating a handful of chances shortly after the resumption. Mat Clark and Tyson Lewis both went very close with nice running lines but frantic Nottingham defence held out on both occasions.

The Knights would not have to wait much longer for the opening score however.

Cutting off his wing Dougie Flockhart made an impressive break in midfield, carrying possession deep into the visiting half. In the following phase the ball was put wide and Tyson Lewis did very well stay in bounds and touch down under heavy defensive pressure. Flockhart produced a remarkable conversion from the touchline and the Knights had some breathing space.

As clichéd as it might be, the next score was always going to be crucial to the outcome, so when replacement back row Ollie Stedman bundled over at the back of another driving line out just moments after entering the game it as good as sealed the win for the Knights. Flockhart ensure a seven point score with another accurate nudge; 26-5 with under twenty minutes left to play.

Despite the score line Nottingham refused to roll over. Paul Grant carry barged his way through some rather halfhearted challenges allowing the visitors came forward at pace. The Knights scrambled to stop the number eight but left themselves very thin out wide and Ben Woods was more than happy to accept the invitation to pounce through a gap in the line and score. Mugford converted and all of a sudden the result didn’t seem the certainty it was moments earlier.

The closing stages brought chances for both sides but no further scores meaning the Knights collected four points which saw them finish the day level at the top of the Championship! The celebrations continued for several hours post kick off under the De Mulder Lloyd stand concourse, next up is Jersey away on January 2nd.

Match Statistics

Knights XV; 15) Paul Jarvis, 14) Dougie Flockhart, 13) Mat Clark (Andy Bulumakau 6, 12) Will Hurrell, 11) Tyson Lewis, 10) Dec Cusack, 9) Michael Heaney, 1) Rich List, 2) Ben Hunter (Vili Veikoso 63’), 3) Colin Quigley, 4) Matt Challinor, 5) Jon Phelan (Tyler Hotson 74’), 6) Latu Makaafi (Ollie Stedman 54’), 7) Michael Hills ©, 8) Alex Shaw.

Replacements; 16) Vili Veikoso, 17) Ollie Stedman, 18) WillGriff John, 19) Tyler Hotson, 20) Simon Humberstone, 21) Andy Bulumakau, 22) Sam Edgerley.

Tries; Lewis 54’, Stedman 61’

Conv; Flockhart 54’, 61’

Pens; Flockhart 9’, 20’, 27’, 38’

Nottingham XV; 15) Billy Robinson, 14) Sam Coghlan Murray, 13) Ben Woods, 12) Heath Stevens, 11) Pila Iongi, 10) Dan Mugford (Lawrence Rayner 68’), 9) Darryl Veenendaal, 1) Kieran Davies, 2) Jack Singleton, 3) Conor Carey (Tom Heard 61’), 4) Ben Morris, 5) Joe Green, 6) Rupert Cooper (Rob Langley 55’), 7) Matt Everard (C), 8) Paul Grant

Replacements; 16) JJ Broberg, 17) Harry Morley, 18) Tom Heard, 19) Andrew Kitchener, 20) Rob Langley, 21) Murray McConnell, 22) Lawrence Rayner

Tries; Longi 12’, Woods 61’

Conv; Mugford 61’


Referee: Matt O’Grady

Attendance: 2,921

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