Knights Secure Away Win But Are Beaten On Aggregate
9th May 2022
Doncaster Knights scored a 31-27 away win against Coventry yesterday but exited the Championship Cup on aggregate.
Knights were the first on the scoreboard in the afternoon sunshine at Butts Park Arena. On five minutes played, Harry Davey collected a Coventry high ball and broke from his own 22. Having drawn in the opposition defenders in their 22, he took the smart offload option to release Kyle Evans for an easy run in.
With a successful first tee attempt from Sam Olver, the Knights were in the lead.
Five minutes later, the hosts had a converted score of their own. They carried hard off the back of a scrum in the Knights 22 and, whilst the Doncaster defence held up for a handful of phases, they kept at it until Jordan Poole found a gap to trot through for the hosts. Tony Fenner was the man to add the extras.
The Knights took the lead again when a lovely combination of passes from Olver to Davey gave the Knights full-back a chance to delay his pass just long enough to afford Maliq Holden a clear run-in on the wing. Olver converted the score.
There was nearly another minutes later as a beast of a restart saw Connor Edwards break with the ball. As he charged down field, Fraser Strachan and Evans raced to provide supporting lines. Edwards chipped ahead for all three to hare down on but Coventry fingers were just able to nick the ball and put in a desperate clearance kick to touch.
An unfortunate yellow card with nearly 20 minutes played reduced the Knights to 14 men. Strachan just mistimed his tackle on a chip-kick chase and was sent to the sin bin for taking a man in the air.
Just shy of the half hour mark, Coventry evened things on the scoreboard. A move which started at the halfway line saw them moving the ball with great pace, staying one step ahead of the Knights defence at each step. Bearing down on the Doncaster line, it was eventually Senitiki Nayalo who crashed over for the hosts, with Fenner again adding the extras.
As Strachan returned to the field for the Knights, Louis Brown was sent to the bin for Coventry – the results of a bad tackle on Evans as the Doncaster winger took Olver’s chip kick.
The Knights took good use of the man advantage as they scored their third try five minutes before half time. A big drive from the pack from the lineout gave a solid platform to feed the carries to the backs. With a real look of commitment to see things through, it was short sharp offloads on the line which gave John Kelly the perfect opportunity to fly over for the score.
With a third successful conversion from Olver, the Knights were once more seven points ahead of the hosts.
Considering it had been a good day at the tee for Olver, there were looks of confusion on Knights fans’ and players’ faces as his penalty attempt on half time, which looked to have flown high through the posts, was called unsuccessful on the right upright.
He rectified the issue two minutes into the second half as he secured the penalty shot at goal as a result of a call against Coventry for not rolling away at the breakdown. Fenner followed suit for his side as he secured a penalty for Knights not releasing the tackler.
On 50 minutes, the field was reduced in numbers again as Thom Smith was the man sent to the bin for what looked to be a call for pulling down the maul cynically.
Coventry then drove their maul from the lineout over the line with Josh Bainbridge tearing off the back of the piece with a latcher to cross for another score. Fenner’s conversion successfully made all points level.
On the hour mark, Coventry were dealt a double blow as two players were yellow carded within two minutes of each other. James Tyas looked to have played the ball on the floor while Jake Bridges’ card looked to be for repeated infringements. Ultimately, this culminated in a penalty try for the Knights.
Last points of the match were secured by Fenner as his penalty kick split the uprights when the Knights were penalised for not releasing the tackler.
Ultimately, the Knights were the winners on the day, but were agonisingly 9 points short on the aggregate score. And so, Coventry will advance to the Championship Cup semi-final against Jersey next weekend, whilst the Knights will walk away from this 2021/22 season with a final away win on their record.
Coventry XV | 15 Louis Brown; 14 Sam Aspland-Robinson, 13 Louis James, 12 Andy Forsyth, 11 James Martin; 10 Tony Fenner, 9 Dan Babos; 1 Toby Trinder, 2 Jordan Poole (c), 3 Ollie Andrews, 4 James Tyas, 5 Adam Peters, 6 Fred Betteridge, 7 Josh Bainbridge, 8 Senitiki Nayalo.
Replacements | 16 Suva Ma’asi, 17 Luc Jeannot, 18 Jake Bridges, 19 Rhys Thomas, 20 Tom Ball, 21 Fin Ogden, 22 Rob Knox, 23 Rob Stevenson.
Pens: Fenner (x2)
Tries: Poole, Nayalo, Bainbridge
Conv: Fenner (x3)
Yellow card: Louis Brown, James Tyas, Jake Bridges.
Knights XV | 15 Harry Davey; 14 Kyle Evans, 13 Connor Edwards, 12 Fraser Strachan, 11 Maliq Holden; 10 Sam Olver, 9 Alex Dolly; 1 Conor Davidson, 2 George Roberts, 3 Cal Ford, 4 John Kelly, 5 Ben Murphy, 6 Sam Hudson, 7 Sam Graham (c), 8 Thom Smith.
Replacements | 16 Will Holling, 17 Ben Carlile, 18 Matt Woodward, 19 Jack Davies, 20 Guido Volpi, 21 Joe Green, 22 Mark Best, 23 Joe Margetts.
Tries: Evans, Holden, Kelly, Penalty try
Conv: Olver (x2)
Yellow card: Fraser Strachan, Thom Smith.