MATCH REPORT | Knights crowned cup champs!
20th April 2020
DONCASTER KNIGHTS 24 WHARFEDALE 17
Doncaster Knights won their second successive Yorkshire Cup with two late tries through their dominate pack after having been well on top for most of the second half. Throughout the game however National Division 3 side Wharfedale competed well with the Division Two Knights and put them under pressure with three well taken 1st half tries.
For the final, Doncaster Knight’s Director of Rugby Lynn Howells kept faith with the bulk of the team who had got the Club to the final which meant that approximately one third of his regular starting line-up figured. Although the torrential pre-match rain had stopped when the match kicked off, the conditions underfoot were difficult for both sides and it was fairly obvious that the side that played the conditions best would win. Wharfedale went ahead after only 5 minutes when they drove the bigger Knight’s pack over from a 5 metre line and their veteran lock Dave Lister scored a try which fly half Andy Baggett converted. The Knights came back through their backs and they had chances to score but, each time, they either lost the ball or, more often, they fell foul of the referee. Wharfedale went further ahead after 16 minutes when they broke down the right flank from inside their own half and, when they sucked in the Knight’s defence, scrum half James Doherty galloped over for an unconverted try. Almost immediately Wharfedale scored again when their backs broke through a big hole in the Knight’s defence midfield and right winger Mark Bedworth raced over for another unconverted try. From the kick off Knights should have scored when their flanker Andy Wilson made 30 metres up deep into the Wharfedale 22 but he died with the ball rather than passing to the supporting runners. Wilson was injured in this encounter and he was replaced by lock Luke Gross with Bryn Griffiths moving into the back row. The Knights now elected to play the game through their pack and the build on the scrummaging dominance they had already obtained. As half time approached Doncaster were given a scrum 5 metres out in front of the Wharfedale posts and Wharfedale were penalised as they were driven backwards. After two more similar penalties the referee lost patience with Wharfedale and he awarded the Knights a penalty try that was converted by fly half Cerith Rees to bring the half to a close.
Doncaster’s second half tactics were simple – keep it in the pack and, when you did release it, kick for position. After only 5 minutes, Howells elected for more pace in the back row and he moved centre Tom Luke to flanker in place of Ollie Cook with Wes Davies coming on in the centre. The replacement had an immediate effect when the Knights gained a line out 5 metres out following a penalty and their pack drove over for an unconverted try by Luke. Simple rugby and patience was the order of the day and the Knights camped on the Wharfedale line and could have scored from a number of pushover attempts but the Dalesmen’s defence held out. It took Wharfedale almost 25 minutes to get into the Knight’s half and they almost put the game beyond Doncaster’s reach when winger Mark Bedworth was stopped just short after catching a clever diagonal kick by Baggett. From this effort Wharfedale were penalised and they were immediately pinned back into their half by the powerful Doncaster pack. The Knight’s third try came after 74 minutes when, following yet another drive for the line, Griffiths drove over from close in and Rees converted with an excellent kick from wide out to put his side in front for the first time. From the kick off the spirited Wharfedale side attacked the Knights but they were thwarted by excellent defence. As the game went into injury time, the Knights gained another 5 metre line from a penalty. Doncaster’s trade mark catch and drive worked well and replacement hooker Scott Plevey was credited with the try as the pack drove over and the Knights were home by 24 points to 17.
After the match Lynn Howells praised his pack and singled out props Jon Rawson and Toma Toke who destroyed their opposite numbers. He said that in a cup final you had to give respect to your opposition irrespective of which league they played in and he criticised his side for not doing this in the first half. He felt that the second half was a different matter however as the Knights played to their strengths as they dominated a very brave Wharfedale side who, in spite of being pinned into their 22 for long periods, never gave up.
Doncaster Knights: A Carter; P Bailey; S Davey; T. Luke; D Van Vuuren; C Rees; D Storey (D Scully 70); T Toke (R List 61); B Phillips (S Plevey 76); J Rawson (T Davies 53); B Griffiths; G Kenworthy; S Gray; O Cook (L Gross); A Wilson (W Davies) Sub not used M Woodrow
Written by John Lowe.