London Scottish 14-48 Doncaster Knights
The Knights made it three away wins in a row and four successive victories over the Exiles as they ran in eight tries on the way to a bonus point victory at The Athletic Ground.
Having kept within seven points of unbeaten league leaders London Irish at their Madejski home last weekend and still with play-off ambitions of their own Scottish were not to be taken lightly but simply had no answer for the Knights attacking flare.
In what was a pretty open the start, Donny created the first purposeful attack. Simon Humberstone reacted quickest to a ball spilled in the home half and good support ensured a turnover. A couple of phases later scrum half Michael Heaney darted through a gap at the base before Aaron Carpenter hit a flat line and get over but was held up in goal and a scrum infringement allowed the Scots to clear.
The hosts quickly hit back and crossed the Knights try line themselves shortly after, centre Ross Neal collected possession following a well-judged cross-field kick and drove into the goal area but could not ground. From the resulting scrum The Exiles made the pressure pay and after a hard carry from Neal possession was spun wide where former Knight Danny Kerry crossed untouched. Peter Lydon added the extras.
Despite what seemed idyllic conditions for Rugby both sides committed a surprisingly high number of handling errors in the game’s early stages. Opportunities knocked for both sides but often came to an end through a dropped ball or stray pass. The hosts arguably looked more likely to get a second than the Knights a first as the game creeped past the twenty-minute mark but no opening was found with a missed Lydon penalty the closest they came.
From that point on the first half belonged firmly to the Knights as they put on a fine fifteen-minute spell to run in three quick-fire tries.
The first came as The Exiles threatened from a driving lineout. Dan Koroi looked to break down the blindside from close range but as the hooker looked for support he only found a Knights hand. Possession was the quickly spun from right to left with a couple of monster passes unleashing the Knights outside backs. Paul Jarvis straightened up before handing on to Andy Bulumakau who raced forward and released Tyson Lewis. With daylight in front of him the World Record Holder never looked like getting caught as he sprinted away to score. Dougie Flockhart could not convert.
The try seemed to boost the Knights who looked much more dynamic after as they begun to create openings far more frequently and it wasn’t long until they were in again. Bulumakau showed great awareness to drop on a loose pass deep in the home half and with support the turnover was completed. A couple of quick attacking carries stretched the Exiles defence and Flockhart profited to charge over out wide.
Moments later the Knights worked their way downfield once more and a deep penalty gave the forwards a chance to strut their stuff. Two driving mauls were illegally dropped by Scottish resulting in the sin-binning of replacement back-row Dom McGeekie. The third was thrown to the back where Glen Young collected before popping off to Matt Challinor at full charge, the lock was not to be stopped as he barged his way over. Flockhart was unsuccessful with the extras and shortly after half time was called.
The Knights continued their fine form after the interval and guaranteed at least a bonus point with their first attack of the half. A fine series offloads began as Humberstone attacked blind from a midfield scrum, the stand off fed Tyson Lewis who broke powerfully. Under pressure Lewis fed the ball back inside to Michael Heaney who handed onto Jack Ram to score, Flockhart slotted the conversion 7-22.
Scottish made an immediate response and, back to a full compliment, hit back with a second score moments later. Winger Matty Williams made a handy carry with his first meaningful involvement and in the next phase Joe Atkinson was bundled down close. Not held, the flanker got back to his feet and crossed unchallenged with Lydon’s conversion reducing the Knights lead to eight.
This was as good as it got for the hosts however as the Knights produced a scintillating attacking display to record a further four unanswered tries
The forwards came up trumps for the next score as they took advantage an over hit clearance from Lydon; the full back’s effort went out on the full allowing for a deep lineout. A textbook driving maul saw the Donny pack to within a yard before Challinor and Hunter combined well to put the latter over. Flockhart had much more joy at goal in the second half and added the extras.
Another rolling maul brought another Knights try little more than five minutes later, with possession secured the home pack were unable to resist the Donny forwards who rumbled over with Jack Ram touching down for his second.
Flockhart kicked the extras and then added a second try for good measure shortly after. Having secured field position with a long kick to touch Lloyd Hayes carried on first phase to be stopped just short. Play was switched blind and Ben Hunter very nearly touched down but Flockhart would not be denied from close range.
Credit must go to Scottish who refused to give up and attacked to the last but Donny continued to look the more dangerous of the two sides. No further scores came for either side until the final play of the game.
Replacement prop Joe Sproston showed an impressive turn of foot to carry in open field before handing onto Sam Edgerley who gave a beautifully timed offload to Jarvis who was able to outstrip Matty Williams to the line. Flockhart’s successful conversion closed proceedings to leave the Knights as 14-48 victors.
A statement win for Clive Griffiths charges who now go into their final four clashes of the regular season with considerable momentum.
London Scottish XV; 15 Peter Lydon, 14 Alec Coombes, 13 Robbie Fergusson, 12 Ross Neal, 11 Auguy Slowik (Matt Williams 40’), 10 Harry Sheppard (George Cullen 58’), 9 Jamie Stevenson (Ed Hoadley 58’), 1 Jonny Harris (Grant Shiells 58’), 2 Dan Koroi, 3 Ewan McQuillin (Phil Cringle 63’), 4 Rory Bartle (c), 5 Charlie Hewitt, 6 Matt Marley (Ralph Adams-Hale 75’), 7 Joe Atkinson, 8 Danny Kenny (Dom McGeekie 22’). Replacements: 16 Ralph Adams-Hale, 17 Grant Shiells, 18 Phil Cringle, 19 Dom McGeekie, 20 Ed Hoadley, 21 Matt Williams, 22 George Cullen.
Tries; Kenny 12’, Atkinson 47
Conv; Lydon 13’, 47’
Knights XV; 15. Paul Jarvis, 14. Dougie Flockhart, 13. Andy Bulumakau, 12. Lloyd Hayes, 11. Tyson Lewis, 10. Simon Humberstone (Dec Cusack 63’), 9. Michael Heaney (Sam Edgerley 72’), 1. Rich List (Joe Sproston 52’), 2. Ben Hunter (Jack Bergmanas 67’), 3. Colin Quigley (Saba Meunargia 61’), 4. Matt Challinor (Joe Maksymiw 63’), 5. Glen Young, 6. Jack Ram, 7. Michael Hills ©, 8. Aaron Carpenter (Alex Shaw 63’)
Replacements; 16. Saba Meunargia, 17. Jack Bergmanas, 18. Joe Sproston, 19. Joe Maksymiw, 20. Alex Shaw, 21. Sam Edgerley, 22. Dec Cusack.
Tries; Lewis 27’, Flockhart 31’, 65’, Challinor 38’, Ram 44’, 60’, Hunter 50’, Jarvis 80’
Conv; Flockhart 44’, 51’, 60’, 80
Referee: Christophe Ridley