Doncaster Knights 29 v Cornish Pirates 25
The Knights welcomed Cornish Pirates to Castle Park for the second time in the three weeks having suffered an agonizing two-point defeat in the league but on the back of a 32-37 victory away at Cross Keys, the Knights were hopeful of continuing their strong start to the British & Irish Cup at home.
Last weekend at Pandy Park a poor start saw the Knights trailing by ten points before the game was ten minutes old but that wasn’t the case this afternoon. Flying winger Tyson Lewis set off like a greyhound to collect a Paul Roberts kick off and put his team on the attack. The ball was quickly recycled Donny won a penalty soon after, with the advantage Roberts tried a grubber kick to the corner but it bounced to touch. The fly half elected to go for points from the penalty but was off the mark.
Undeterred the Knights continued to attack and patiently tested the Pirates defence with countless, well-work, phases. Bruno Bravo was provided with of clean ball as the forwards worked tirelessly and, eventually space came for Andy Bulumakau to work his way through the line. The centre found full back Paul Jarvis arriving at pace to support and he collected then jinked his way over for the game’s opening score. Roberts added the extras.
The try spurred the visitors into life and the Knights were unable to replicate the attacking flare demonstrated in the opening exchanges. The game remained without further score as neither side was able to take the game by the collar. A good opportunity did fall the Knights way when Jarvis cut inside to break through the line but his pass to Dougie Flockhart went to ground with the line begging. This would be Flockhart’s final action of the game, as the winger was forced from the field with what appeared to be a knock to the knee. Shortly after there was more injury concern when Pirates loose head prop Jamal Ford-Robinson went down requiring physio treatment, thankfully he got back to his feet after a brief stoppage.
As the half ebbed towards it’s final ten minutes the Pirates were able to capitalize on some lengthy spells in possession as fly half Laurence May slotted a couple of penalties, missing a couple more however.
Having worked their way into just a one-point deficit the Pirates then took advantage of some sloppy Knights defensive play. A missed tackle and questionable defensive alignment gave winger Richard Lane a clear run to the line after he skipped out of the initial challenge. May comfortably slotted the extras and the Pirates lead.
The visitors had not shown anything extraordinary to have taken to lead but Donny seemed to be struggling to get into their rhythm. This, however, improved as half time beckoned and the Knights finished showing the offensive panache that they had began the game with.
A patient drive of attacks and notable carries from the Donny midfield worked the Knights deep into the Cornish 22m. A series of pick and go drives were put together by the forwards before possession was spun wide, playing in the centres, Andy Bulumakau was again able to make a half break and again found Jarvis in support. The full backs pace saw him sprint away untouched and Paul Roberts conversion made sure the Knights went in to the break ahead, if only just.
The Knights started positively after the break. The scrum, which had been pretty level up until that point, started to swing Donny’s way and a scrum penalty allowed Roberts to open the second half account.
The Pirates almost made an immediate response when they forced a penalty from the restart. Fly Half May was off the mark and the Pirates were soon down to 14 men after Andy Bulumakau made a turnover to set up a counterattack. With an overlap outside the Knights looked to spread the posession wide only for winger Craig Holland to bat the ball to ground, earning himself a ten-minute breather.
With the man advantage DoR Clive Griffiths moved to drive the advantage home and brought on fresh legs in the form of Matt Challinor and Colin Quigley but play was stopped shortly after. Phil Eggleshaw fell horribly following a line out and following a lengthy stoppage was stretchered off and replace by Will Foden, fingers crossed everything is ok.
The stoppage didn’t affect the Knights and almost immediately from the restart they were on the charge, another impressive Bulumakau run saw him head for the corner flag before executing a lovely switch move with Tyson Lewis who was able to coast over for a score.
Now trailing by nine, the Pirates needed something quickly or risked being blown out of the contest. Back to a full compliment of players a number of changes were made by the visitors and on the hour mark they themselves had a man advantage when Will Foden miss timed a tackle and shown a yellow card. The visitors went to the corner shortly after and an ominous rolling maul was driven over the Knights line, the desperate home defence held their opponents up but the relentless Pirates were on the attack soon after. Another short range line out set up another rolling maul and this time it could not be stopped, with flanker Joe Atkinson emerging from the pile of bodies to score. Bad luck for Laurence May as his conversion bounced back off the posts making the score 22-18.
From the restart the Pirates went on the attack again. A clever chip ahead had Paul Roberts back peddling and a good chase forced the fly half back over his own try line in possession. Following the resulting scrum the Cornish pack tried to batter their way through the home side but could not find a way so they spun the ball to the backs. Further attacking carries followed and eventually scrum half Stuart Townsend spotted a gap to dart over. May added the extras and with little left on the clock the Knights trailed 22-25.
Fighting back from losing positions has become a feature of this Knights side over the past two seasons but at this point in the game they looked beaten.
A Cornish infringement was penalised offering a glimmer of hope to the large home crowd and a huge touch finder from Jamie Lennard meant the Knights had a lineout 5m from the Pirates line. An absorbing driving maul was stopped short of the line and the Knights forward looked the charge their way over from close range. A number of carries were made but the Knights could not find a way and when the ball was spun out to a stationary Jack Bergmanas behind the gain line the home defences shot forward like a flash. The replacement hooker produced a fine inside pass to initiate a set move that resulted in Paul Jarvis taking the ball in full flight and crashing over for his hat-trick in turn securing a Knights victory. Paul Roberts added the two points for a memorable win 29-25 victory for the Knights and meant the Pirate would have to make the long journey home with just a losing bonus point.
The win means the Knights have a perfect ten points from the opening two round of British & Irish Cup fixtures and now face the prospect of Bedford Blues at Castle Park in a week’s time.
Knights XV 15) Paul Jarvis, 14) Dougie Flockhart, 13) Andy Bulumakau, 12) Bevon Armitage, 11) Tyson Lewis, 10) Paul Roberts, 9) Bruno Bravo (George Tresidder 68’), 1) Richard List (Tom Davies), 2) Ben Hunter (Jack Bergmanas 70’), 3) Ross Davies (Colin Quigley 53’), 4) Tyler Hotson (Matt Challinor 53’), 5) Jon Phelan, 6) Latu Makaafi, 7) Michael Hills (c) (Will Foden 56’), 8) Phil Eggleshaw
Replacements; 16 Tom Davies, 17) Jack Bergmanas, 18) Colin Quigley, 19) Matt Challinor, 20) Will Foden, 21) George Tresidder, 22) Jamie Lennard.
Tries; Jarvis 6’, 40’ & 80’ & Lewis 56’
Conv; Roberts 6’, 40’, 80’
Pens; Roberts 47’
Sin bin; Foden 62’
Cornish Pirates; 15 Max Bodilly, 14 Craig Holland (Bertie Hopkin 61’), 13 Tom Hendrickson, 12 Alex Dancer, 11 Richard Lane, 10 Laurence May, 9 Stuart Townsend, 1 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 2 Rob Elloway, (Dean Brooker 76’), 3 Alan Paver (Jack Andrew 65’), 4 Will Graulich, 5 Will Carrick Smith, 6 Alex Cheesman (capt) (Chris Morgan 76’), 7 Joe Atkinson, 8 Jake Parker.
Replacements; 16 Dean Brooker, 17 Jack Andrew, 18 Marcus Garratt, 19 Chris Morgan, 20 Gavin Cattle, 21 Bertie Hopkin, 22 Luke Jones.
Tries; Lane 40’, Elloway 68’, Townsend 76’
Conv; May 40’, 76’
Pens; May 32’, 36’
Sin bin; Holland 51’
Referee: Rhys Thomas