Nottingham Rugby 7-29 Doncaster Knights
The Knights completed a home and away double over northern Championship rivals Nottingham with a classy display that saw them outscore the Green and Whites by five tries to one.
On a testing surface Clive Griffiths’ charges fired on all cylinders to record a ninth win of the season and enhance their standing in the league’s top four.
The Knights made a flying start to the tie and were ahead after just six minutes.
A lovely touch finder from Simon Humberstone following an Andy Bulumakau break put pressure on the home line out which failed to hit its target. Ben Hunter recovered to go within an inch of the line before possession was knocked forward; the hosts cleared hurriedly from the resulting scrum and the Knights took full advantage. Possession was secured at the line out and Aaron Carpenter carried before handing on to Michael Heaney, slick handling made room for Paul Jarvis who put his foot down to score on an arcing run in the corner.
Nottingham responded with their first attack of the game bu,t following an extended period of attacking play, missed the chance for points as fly-half Gearoid Lyons dropped a penalty attempt short.
Donny reacted superbly and after gaining field position through a penalty to touch crafted an attack that moved them deep into the home 22m; stretched the Green and Whites defence to breaking point. Lloyd Hayes and Aaron Carpenter made notable in roads as the ball was moved smartly from touchline to touchline. Having done much of the grunt work Colin Quigley hit a sublime line at first receiver to charge over the gain line and offload to fellow Scotsman Dougie Flockhart. The winger collected and dived over before converting his own score; 0-12.
The Knights continued to impress as the half progress with Nottingham chances only ever the result of occasional Donny errors. Having scrambled to haul down lock Ben Morris following some miscommunication at the back of a ruck the Knights went back on the attack and a third score soon followed. Bulumakau evaded a pair of would be defenders to get close to a score before possession was recycled to Humberstone. The stand-off did exceptionally well to wriggle his way through a crowd of bodies and touch down under the sticks. Flockhart’s conversion made it 0-19.
With less than ten to play till the interval there was only one team in it but a late flurry from the hosts served as a timely reminder that the game was not over. Another error at the back of a ruck saw the Nottingham pack bundle forward and only some excellent but frantic defending stopped a score. A scrum was awarded to the home side and shortly after they were on the board as prop Ben Hooper spotted a gap at the edge of the ruck to rumble over with Lyons converting.
Joe Cobden very nearly made it a superb end to the half as the winger broke through the Knights line and only stopped excruciatingly close. Ben Morris picked up on the next phase with Ben Hunter doing superbly to hold the lock up and with that half time was called.
The second half started less frantically than the first ended and the Knights looked controlled without really threatening early on. Patient phase play moved Donny into promising field position but a combination of resolute defence and a lack of killer touch prevented further scores. The resistance did not last very long however and a bonus point score came before the hour mark.
A determined carry from Jarvis set the Knights in motion and having made progress deep into the 22m the forwards set about picking towards the line. Inch by inch the Donny pack got closer and closer until eventually captain Michael Hills found a gap to get over.
The Captain would got a second before the game was out having won the penalty that put his side in range. A solid driving maul was formed following the line out and Harry Allen carried from the back before being hauled down just in front of the posts; play was moved blind and some slick handling meant Hills could dart in by the corner flag.
Donny continued in the ascendancy and created opportunities until the final whistle with Tyson Lewis and Sam Edgerley combining to get very close before Lloyd Hayes very nearly finished a deft chip forward from Dec Cusack. A Crossfield kick to Lewis almost came off in the final play but the home defence prevented a sixth try and with that referee Luke Pearce brought the end to the game.
The Knights looked a cut above Nottingham in trying, heavy conditions let’s hope that they carry tonight’s form to London in a fortnight’s time!
Nottingham XV; 15) David Williams, 14) Calum Hall, 13) Charlie Thacker, 12) Vili Hakalo (Tiff Eden 49’), 11) Joe Cobden, 10) Gearoid Lyons, 9) Darryl Veenendaal (Murray McConnell 74’), 1) Kieran Davies (Harry Morley 73’), 2) TJ Harris (Jimmy Stevens 49’, 3) Ben Hooper (Tom Heard 56’), 4) Ben Morris (C), 5) Morgan Eames, 6) Rob Langley (Tom Holmes 56’), 7) Jordan Coghlan (Matt Everard 67’), 8) Shane Buckley
Replacements; 16) Jimmy Stevens, 17) Harry Morley, 18) Tom Heard, 19) Tom Holmes, 20) Matt Everard, 21) Murray McConnell, 22) Tiff Eden
Tries; Hooper 38’
Conv; Lyons 39’
Knights XV; 15) Paul Jarvis, 14) Dougie Flockhart 13) Andy Bulumakau, 12) Lloyd Hayes, 11) Tyson Lewis, 10) Simon Humberstone (Dec Cusack 75’), 9) Michael Heaney (Sam Edgerley 74’), 1) Richard List (Jack Bergmanas 34’), 2) Ben Hunter (Harry Allen 67’), 3, Colin Quigley (Joe Sproston 70’), 4) Matt Challinor (Joe Maksymiw 61’), 5) Glen Young, 6) Jack Ram, 7) Michael Hills (C), 8) Aaron Carpenter (Alex Shaw 68’)
Replacements; 16) Jack Bergmanas, 17) Harry Allen, 18) Joe Sproston, 19) Joe Maksymiw, 20) Alex Shaw, 21) Sam Edgerley, 22) Dec Cusack.
Tries; Jarvis 6’, Flockhart 19’, Humberstone 32’, Hills 56’, 72’
Conv; Flockhart 19’, 33’
Referee: Luke Pearce.