Doncaster suffered their first defeat of the year in a match they deserved more from today against Ealing Trailfinders.
Despite an impressive first half in which the Knights came from two tries behind to lead at the interval thanks to scores from Mike Mayhew, Rory Pitman and Tom James; it was Ealing that powered back in the second half and earned a 33-24 victory.
The first half started with Ealing the better side with two tries in the opening 15 minutes. First Kieran Murphy scored his first of the afternoon after pushing off a couple of Doncaster tackles to dot down and give the home side the lead.
The Trailfinders had the chance score their second, before they did, when a simple pass out wide went out of play after Curtis Wilson sprinted back and made a vital challenge to put the Ealing player off.
However, the Trailfinders did manage to extend their lead after James Cordy-Redden found a gap inside the Knights’ 22 and score. Lydon converted to make the score line 14-0.
That was a wakeup call for Doncaster as they began to find a foothold in the game. First Lloyd Hayes made a good interception and drove the visitors into the opposition half, then a couple of phases later Kurt Morath made a good offload to Tyson Lewis, who burst away into the Ealing 22, before being tackled.
Confidence grew around the side and was rewarded on 22 minutes as Mayhew scored his second for the club from a driving maul. Morath converted to decrease the home sides lead to seven points.
That try was the momentum the Knights needed and dominated the rest of the half. Cameron Cowell broke away into the Trailfinders half, he passed to Curtis Wilson down the right, but the winger was put in touch with a heavy tackle and the chance went.
However, on 35 minutes Doncaster earned their second try from another driving maul. This time Pitman was the hero after Morath had kicked a penalty into touch and a Mayhew line out hit the target of Matt Challinor. After a couple of seconds of powering forward the ball worked its way to the Welshman and he dotted down. Morath converted to make the score line all even.
The Knights did not stop there though in the attack as the momentum swung 180 degrees in the favour of the South Yorkshire side. From the same position as the previous two tries, a line out and driving maul followed. Yet this time, Doncaster worked it wide and James managed to squeeze through and score his tenth try of the season. Morath again was on hand to put away the conversion and hand a 14-21 half time lead to the visitors.
As expected it was Ealing that came out in full force in the second half knowing another defeat would all be seal the Championship title for London Irish.
On 47 minutes, the home side’s pressure prevailed as Murphy dotted down in the right hand corner after a couple of quick passes in the Knights’ 22 allowing the number 8 the space to score. Lydon again converted to make the score line level once again.
Ealing continued to put the away side under pressure, but were kept at bay with the Knights’ defence holding firm. Doncaster had chances of their own to regain the lead, as Creed was first to react to Jordan Burns failing to deal with a bouncing ball. Unfortunately, as the ball crept over the try line it was those in a green and white shirt that manage to get there first.
However, Clive Griffiths’ side did take the lead again after Kurt Morath slotted away another kick on 67 minutes and make the score 24-21.
Ealing reacted instantly and after three quick offloads down the left flank they found a gap to score, which after another successful conversion handed the Championship second placed side a 28-24 advantage going into the last 10 minutes.
A lead they extended further from a pick and go after a impressive driving maul pushed the Doncaster defence deep into their 22 and after a Lydon conversion the result was sealed at 33-24 to Ealing Trailfinders, despite the best efforts of the away side that deserved to travel back to Yorkshire with a point or two.
Knights XV: 15. Cowell 14. Wilson 13. Creed 12. Hayes 11. Lewis 10. Morath(78’Foley) 9. James(74’Seniloli) 1. Hislop 2. Mayhew(65’Malcolm) 3. Sproston 4. Challinor 5. Tyrell(63’Lomidze) 6. Stedman 7. Calladine(74’Jones) 8. Pitman
Replacements: 16. Malcolm 17. List 18. Talase 19. Lomidze 20. Jones 21. Seniloli 22. Foley
Tries: Mayhew, Pitman, James Conversions: Morath 3 Penalty: Morath
Ealing XV: 15. Lydon 14. Harries 13. Jones 12. Sloan 11. Cordy-Redden 10. May 9. Burns 1. Lundberg 2. Cornish 3. Tampin 4. Smid 5. Casson 6. O’Regan 7. Reid 8. Murphy
Replacements: 16. Walker 17. O'Connell 18. Millar-Mills 19. Edgson 20. Tuolet 21. Ryan 22. Willis
Tries: Murphy 2, Cordy-Redden, Cornish, Smid Conversions: Lydon 4