Doncaster Knights 27 Plymouth Albion 6
Saturday saw the much anticipated start of the 2014-2015 league season when Doncaster Knights welcomed Plymouth Albion to Castle Park. Doncaster produced a superb opening display to topple the visitors 27-6.
The Knights were making their return to Championship rugby after gaining promotion and were faced with a tough challenge against a Plymouth side who are notoriously good starters. They have only lost once on the opening weekend since 2001.
The game began at a high pace, within the first 30 seconds Latu Makaafi broke the defensive line before a series of powerful surges by the pack, in particular Michael Hills and Richard List, earned the Knights a penalty. Dougie Flockhart stepped up but it bounced agonisingly off the up rights.
It was the visitors turn to attack, wing Lewis Warner broke out wide but in the ensuing play the ball was knocked on and the threat was gone. However they were not about to let up, from a lineout 5 metres out they looked to have scored but the ball was spilled forwards over the line. Both sides were trading penalties at the scrum and this time it went to the Knights to relieve the pressure.
The next spell of attacking went the way of the Knights, a superbly weighted chip and excellent chase from Dougie Flockhart forced Plymouth into touch 10 metres out. Doncaster looked to mount an attack, Paul Jarvis made a half break but when the ball was shipped wide Plymouth earned a penalty at the ruck.
The yo-yoing nature of the game continued when on 26 minutes Plymouth had a shot at 3 points, from a fairly kickable position Lawrence Rayners attempt fell just wide.
On the 33rd minute the deadlock was finally broken, much to the home crowds delight it was broken by the Knights. From a lineout just inside the Plymouth half the ball was shipped wide, Paul Jarvis hit the line and coasted through a gap. The full back turned on the after burners and sprinted away to score, Dougie Flockhart was on target with the conversion 7-0.
Griff’s men did not let their foot off the gas, the pack surged their way into the Plymouth 22 and it wasn’t long before the line was breached again. Lock Tyler Hotson crashed over the line in his league debut for the Knights against his former club, Flockhart was once again on target 14-0 at half time.
The visitors were the first off the mark in the second period, on 43 minutes they earned a penalty just to the left of the posts and Lawrence Rayner was on target to get his side on the board 14-3.
Just moments later Flockhart had the opportunity to extend the lead back to 14 following on from a huge effort by the Knights pack at a scrum. The winger made no mistake 17-3
On 50 minutes Rayner had another shot at goal, an infringement at a ruck gave the full back a comfortable 3 points 17-6.
Plymouth kept the pressure on, wings Pete Homan and Lewis Warner both made good ground but great defence from Mat Clark stopped the threat.
Griff began to bring on some fresh legs, Tom Davies and Ross Davies both taking their place in the front row and they immediately got to work earning a penalty at a scrum. The penalty attempt fell just wide.
Just a few minutes later Flockhart had another chance as, once again, at a scrum, the Knights overpowered their opposite numbers and this time Flockhart was on target 20-6.
The game was wrapped up with 5 minutes left on the clock when the Knights broke away for their third try of the match. Skipper Michael Hills broke through the line and raced into Plymouth territory. Great interplay between Hills and Flockhart saw Hills in space, the openside showed a great turn of pace to sprint away and finish the move he started 27-6.
The final minutes of the game saw Plymouth dominating possession, but in fitting style with time ran out Matt Challinor produced a bone crunching tackle and the ball was spilled forwards. Final score Doncaster Knights 27 Plymouth Albion 6.
It was a superb start from Doncaster Knights on their return to Championship Rugby, next up the South Yorkshire men travel away to Jersey.
Doncaster Knights XV
1.Richard List (Tom Davies 63’) 2.Ben Hunter (Jack Bergmanas 77’) 3.Colin Quigley (Ross Davies 56’) 4.Matt Challinor 5.Tyler Hotson (Jon Phelan 72’) 6.Latu Makaafi 7.Michael Hills © 8.Alex Shaw 9.Jack Maplesden (Bruno Bravo 63’) 10.Jamie Lennard (Paul Roberts 72’) 11.Tyson Lewis 12.Bevon Armitage 13.Mat Clark 14.Dougie Flockhart 15. Paul Jarvis (Andy Bulumakau 77’)
16.Ross Davies 17.Jack Bergmanas 18.Tom Davies 19.Jon Phelan 20.Bruno Bravo 21.Paul Roberts 22.Andy Bulumakau
Tries: Paul Jarvis 33’ Tyler Hotson 39’ Michael Hills 75’
Conversions: Dougie Flockhart 33’ 39’ 75’
Penalties: Dougie Flockhart 47’ 65’
1.Tom Fidler (Tom Heard 40’) 2.Ted Stagg (Sam Matavesi 56’) 3.Andy Tiedemann (Tom Harrison 62’) 4.Brett Beukeboom 5.Neale Patrick (Rob Langley 40’) 6.Iain Grieve © 7.Eoghan Grace 8.Ali Bone (Tom Jubb 40’) 9.Jimmy Williams (Josh Davies 56’) 10.James Shanahan (Jake Henry 6’) 11.Lewis Warner 12.Ben Woods 13.Toby Howley-Berridge 14.Peter Homan 15.Lawrence Rayner
16.Sam Matavesi 17.Tom Heard 18.Tom Harrison 19.Rob Langley 20.Tom Jubb 21.Josh Davies 22.Jake Henry
Penalties: Lawrence Rayner 43’ 51’
Referee: Steve Lee
Man of the match: Bevon Armitage