Nottingham 6-27 Knights
The Knights passed their first Championship examination of 2018 with flying colours as they produced a brilliantly disciplined display to cruise past Nottingham Rugby at their Lady Bay home.
Donny picked up where they left off a week ago in Dublin with a complete eighty minutes of rugby and, in all honesty, looked a cut above the Green and Whites in all departments. The Knights pack controlled proceedings for the vast majority of the game with all four tries the result of superb set piece play.
It took just three minutes for the Knights to register their first try of the game after Simon Humberstone pinged a smart grubber kick behind the Nottingham line which bounced to touch in the home 22m. Loose lineout ball was seized by Jack Ram who showed good strength to wrestle himself just short of the try line and from there play was switched blind with Michael Heaney hitting Colin Quigley with a miss pass who finished with aplomb.
Ten minutes later the Knights were in again, the lineout once again providing the platform. Following a solid drive the Knights carried infield with Michael hills and Josh Tyrell generating some go forward. Eventually space was found down the left hand side where Matt Challinor took possession and battered over for his second try in two games.
Humberstone negotiated the wind and add the extras which saw the Knights 0-12 up with less that quarter of an hour played.
Nottingham found their feet in the game’s second quarter and began to ask questions out wide. Bristol bound fly-half Tiff Eden showed some nice touches and slotted a couple of cross field kicks that were very nearly collected by winger David Williams.
The hosts got off the mark just before the 20-minute point, after the Knights pack gave away a post lineout penalty and Eden slotted the three pointer. The remainder of the first half was relatively well-matched with the Knights keeping their line in tact with some impressive defensive plays from the likes of Tyrell and Hills.
A penalty just outside the home 22m set up field position for the Knights third try after Humberstone put his forwards in the corner.
An exquisite catch and drive saw the Nottingham pack completely disintegrate and, with Donny racing towards the try line, flanker Jordan Coughlan cynically dropped the drive which saw him yellow-carded and a penalty try awarded.
In the late stages of the half Nottingham looked to turn the screw but were met by an organized defensive which held out till half time meaning the sides went into the change of ends with Donny up 3-19.
Nottingham have recorded some impressive victories at their Lady Bay home this season, including a November victory over Ealing Trailfinders, so it was unsurprising to see them race out of the traps in the second half. An early scrum penalty allowed Eden to reduce the deficit to 16 points but from that point onwards the Knights contained the home efforts.
In heavy conditions it was never going to be a game of quick, flowing rugby and the Knights uncompromising forward play was too much for the home side cope with.
Humberstone cancelled out Eden’s earlier effort with a nice penalty after Mat Clark powered his way into the home half and the Green and Whites were penalized for not rolling away.
The bonus point was secured on 74 minutes and again the Donny set piece can claim all the applause.
A scrum penalty was struck to touch by Declan Cusack and from the corner the forwards gathered and drove through for Ben hunter to tumble over and secure the win.
Nottingham looked to salvage something from the game in the dying stages but the Knights defence remained resolute to complete an impressive afternoon.
The side now look forward to a weekend off before back-to-back home games, no doubt full of confidence following a superb start to the year!
Nottingham XV; 15) Sean Scanlon, 14) Billy Robinson, 13) Will Millett, 12) Gearoid Lyons, 11) David Williams (Vili Hakalo 62’), 10) Tiff Eden, 9) Murray McConnell (Darryl Veenendaal 69’), 1) James Penman (Aniseko Sio 62), 2) Jimmy Stevens (Ben Brownlie 69’) , 3) Rory Burke (Ben Hooper 69’), 4) Alex Moon, 5) Danny Qualter, 6) Ben Morris (C), 7) Jordan Coghlan (Matt Everard 69’), 8) Shane Buckley (Josh Poullet 62’)
Replacements: 16) Ben Brownlie, 17) Aniseko Sio, 18) Ben Hooper, 19) Josh Poullet, 20) Matt Everard, 21) Darryl Veenendaal, 22) Vili Hakalo
Pens; Eden 18’, 47’
Knights XV: 15) Paul Jarvis, 14) Curtis Wilson, 13) Andy Bulumakau, 12) Mat Clark, 11) Tyson Lewis, 10) Simon Humberstone (Declan Cusack 72’), 9) Michael Heaney (Tom James 72’), 1) Richard List (Jack Bergmanas 70’), 2) Ben Hunter, 3) Colin Quigley (Joe Sproston 66’), 4) Matt Challinor (Morgan Eames 73’), 5) Tom Hicks, 6) Jack Ram (Alex Shaw 64’), 7) Michael Hills ©, 8) Josh Tyrell.
Replacements; 16) David Nelson, 17) Jack Bergmanas, 18) Joe Sproston, 19) Morgan Eames, 20) Alex Shaw, 21) Tom James, 22) Declan Cusack.
Tries; Quigley 3’, Challinor 12’, Penalty 31’, Hunter 74’
Conv; Humberstone 12’
Pens; Humberstone 70’
Referee: Dean Richards