Rotherham Titans – 04/01/2015

21Doncaster Knights

23Rotherham Titans

2:00 pm · January 4, 2015

Knights 21 Titans 23

Over 3,600 fans packed Castle Park for the first South Yorkshire derby of the season and were treated to a fascinating eighty minutes of rugby with the lead switching hands four times. Unfortunately for the home fans a late penalty kick from the boot of James McKinney sealed the points for the Titans as the Knights were left to rue what might have been.

It was a blood and thunder clash throughout played with all the trademarks of a derby game; ambitious attacks were met by ferocious defense. The early set pieces were refreshingly well contested and it was from a scrum where the game’s first points were scored. A solid shove from the Knights pack eventually saw referee Dean Richards put his arm in the air for a home penalty. Dougie Flockhart made no mistake and opened the scoring with just a couple of minutes on the board.

The Rotherham side reacted well and that renowned expansive style of play saw the Titans create a couple of early opportunities. Full back Sean Scanlon made his way through the Knights defense and had a clear view of the try line, only for Paul Jarvis to chase back haul him down.

Doncaster held the three-point lead until just before the half hour mark despite seeing little possession. Booming hits from midfield pairing Bevon Armitage and George Catchpole helped quell the Titans attacks but when the hosts were pinged at the breakdown, just outside their own 22m, James Mckinney opened his account to level the scores.

The Titans back divison continued to threaten with ball in hand and when Piers Francis was pinged for not rolling away, following a Doncaster surge downfield, Lloyd Hayes was released from midfield. The outside centre was able to break through the initial line of defence and nearly got passed full back Jarvis. Andy Bulumakau chased back and made the tackle but not before Hayes offloaded to the oncoming Michael Keating. The former Knight collected and touchdown for his first of an afternoon’s brace, Mckinney made it a seven point score.

With little left in the first half the Knights went back on the attack. Paul Jarvis had a bit of joy out wide and won a penalty for an infringement on the floor. With forty minutes on the clock Flockhart elected to take a shot from just inside the Titans half, towards the left touch line. The Scotsman made no mistake and the Knights went in trailing by 10-6.

Despite the strong finish it was Rotherham on the front foot when the second half began, that said the Knights seemed to have the upper hand at the set piece. The home scrum and lineout was solid all afternoon where as the, Titans on occasions, shook. A wayward lineout saw Referee Richards award Doncaster a free kick only for it to be reversed for some indiscipline within the Knights pack. In very kickable range McKinney comfortably slotted the three points.

An immediate response came via Flockhart’s boot when Rotherham were penalized for not rolling away at the ruck, 9-13.

On reflection the next try is ultimately where victory was sealed for the Titans, as momentum began to fall behind the Knights a sweeping attack downfield was built. Solid phase play carried Donny in to the Rotherham half and saw the ball spun from left to right but when a huge pass from midfield missed it’s target Keating pounced.

The Irishman hacked ahead and the Castle Park crowd were quickly reacquainted with his turn of foot. Another nudge forward saw the ball fall over the try line and the winger dived on it to score. Another successful conversion meant that Donny were behind by 9-20.

With 20 minutes left to play DoR Griffiths made a number of changes introducing; Tomasi Palu, Paul Roberts, Villiame Veikoso and Phill Eggleshaw to the game. This injection from the bench seemed to work and after Palu put his side on the front foot with a quick tap penalty Knights went in search of a score. After several drives from the forward the ball went wide where Bulumakau sprinted through a gap only to be dragged down just short. Support quickly came and Phil Eggleshaw, picked up to force his way over the line. A rare miss from Dougie meant the deficit stayed at six points.

It was Palu’s quick thinking that created the opportunity for the Knights second score moments later. Another solid scrum from the home pack gave the scrum half a chance to break down the blind side. A chip ahead was sent in the direction of Andy Bulumakau but the winger was unable to make up the head start through forced a 22m drop out.

The Knights attacked from the kick and when Michael Hills and Paul Roberts linked up cleverly space was created for Paul Jarvis. The full back set off for the corner before cutting back inside to force his way over for a score. Flockhart coolly slotted the conversion from an acute angle and the Knights lead with just five minutes to play.

Having received possession at the restart, the home crowd urged their team to keep hold of possession but good pressure from Rotherham force a kick down field. The Titans returned it powerfully and scrum half Dan White looked to shift play wide from within the Knights half. Before he could Phil Eggleshaw got his hands on the number nine but he was deemed to have done so illegally. From about 40 metres in front of the posts there was little question of how the Titans would use the penalty and McKinney struck the ball straight and true to restore his side’s lead.

The Knights tried to muster another attack but were unable to comeback for a second time. A gutsy performance from both side but indiscipline and a lapse in concentration ultimately cost the hosts the early South Yorkshire bragging rights.

Match Statistics

Starting XV: 15. Paul Jarvis, 14. Dougie Flockhart, 13. George Catchpole, 12. Bevon Armitage, 11. Andy Bulumakau, 10. Piers Francis (Paul Roberts 60’), 9. Brad Field (Tomasi Palu 60’), 8. Alex Shaw, 7. Michael Hills (Captain), 6. Latu Makaafi (Phil Eggleshaw 62’), 5. Jon Phelan, 4. Matthew Challinor, 3. Colin Quigley (Ross Davies 69’), 2. Ben Hunter (Villiame Veikoso 62’), 1. Jack Bergmanas (WillGriff John 69’)

Replacements: 16 Ross Davies, 17 Villiame Veikoso, 18 Tyler Hotson, 19 WillGriff John, 20 Phil Eggleshaw, 21 Paul Roberts, 22 Tomasi Palu.

Tries; Eggleshaw 65’, Jarvis 73’

Conv ; Flockhart 73’

Pens; Flockhart; 6’, 40, 53’

Titans: 15 Sean Scanlon, 14 Michael Keating, 13 Lloyd Hayes, 12 Jordan Davies, 11 Joel Gill (Tom Barrett 40’), 10 James McKinney, 9 Dan White (James Mitchell 75’), 1 Robin Hislop (Marshall Gadd 71’), 2 Jack Preece (Johnny Matthews 50’), 3 Mark Tampin, 4 Perry Parker (Willie Ryan 55’), 5 Tom Holmes (Ben Morris 72’), 6 Barney Maddison, 7 Ali Birch, 8 Alex Rieder.

Replacements: 16 Johnny Matthews, 17 Marshall Gadd, 18 Adam Macklin, 19 Willie Ryan, 20 Ben Morris, 21 James Mitchell, 22 Tom Barrett.

Tries; Keating 37’, 58’

Conv ; McKinney 37’, 58’

Pens; McKinney 29’, 52’, 76’

Attendance: 3676

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