Yorkshire Carnegie 23 v Doncaster Knights 32.
A stunning away victory saw the Knights collect a full five points from the Headingley Carnegie stadium and prevail in the first Yorkshire derby of the season.
The Knights travelled to Headingley Carnegie Stadium hoping to bounce back from their first defeat of the season versus Worcester Warriors the week previous. As well as County bragging rights and Championship points on offer the game also signaled the Knights return to the Yorkshire Regiment Trophy having had a season’s absence last year.
Conditions could not have been much better as the West Yorkshire sun shone on the Headingley turf and the large, vocal Donny support ensured that there was no shortage of encouragement for the Knights.
The Knights started brightly and, following a handling error by the hosts at the kick off, turned the pressure up immediately with a very solid scrum. The Donny packed drove their Carnegie counterparts backwards before being awarded a penalty. Nothing came from the subsequent attack but the early signs were encouraging as Donny continued to pour forward with good support and powerful running.
Having made their way into the home 22m, fly half Jamie Lennard sent a testing grubber kick to the corner for Mat Clark to chase. At first it appeared as if the centre had just lost the foot race but, following a discussion between the referee and his touch judge, a penalty try was awarded as winger Christian Georgiou deliberately knocked the ball dead and was sin binned for doing so. Flockhart added the extras and Donny has a dream start.
The hosts hit back soon after, a well worked attack had the Knights frantically defending their line and Colin Quigley was shown a yellow card for going off his feet at the breakdown. The penalty was kicked to the corner and almost ended in a score for former Knight Oli Goss, the winger was bundled into touch and the Knights had a line out five metres from their own try line. The ball was well collected but the Carnegie pack was able to drive Donny back over their own line resulting in a five metre scrum.
A man light the home pack produced a very solid base to attack from and quickly spun the ball wide. Centre Jon Clark hit the line at pace and was able to take advantage, racing home to even things up with a score. Harry Leonard was unable to add the extras as his effort bounced back off the upright.
From the restart, fine work from winger Tyson Lewis forced a turnover and the hosts fell foul of the referees whistle. Dougie Flockhart elected to take the shot at goal and was on the money again putting the Knights ahead by 5-10.
The game continued at a very fast pace with both teams looking to attack quickly and, occasionally, forcing plays that weren’t necessarily on. One attack from the Knights saw Alex Shaw and Tom Davies link up well to put the former just short but the hosts produced plenty of chances themselves. Centre Jon Clarke looked as if he was going to score having hit a good line in midfield only to be pulled back for a forward pass.
The Knights scrum, which had started so brightly, continued to be tested with the numerical disadvantage and another powerful surge from the home pack forced a penalty that Leonard put to the corner. Quick, well-executed phase play followed a solid line out and another former Knight, David McIlwane, spotted a half gap and managed to work his way through, reaching out to score. The try made things all square but Leonard was unable to put Carnegie in the lead as his conversion sailed wide.
The next major incident in the match really spun the game in the Knights advantage. A hectic couple of phases of play saw Donny lose possession in an attacking position before recovering the ball through Bevon Armitage. The centre carried forward powerfully only to be met by a thumping tackle from Phil Nilsen. The tackle saw Armitage lifted off his feet and referee Steve Lee believed Nilsen to have illegally dropped him and showed the hooker a straight red card. Flockhart kicked the three points and the Knights were back in the lead and would play the rest of the game against 14 men. Halftime score Carnegie 10 Knights 13.
Despite being a man down Carnegie came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, enjoying arguably their strongest spell in the game. The home side controlled possession in the opening stages and were able to produce a number of chances but the Knights defence held firm. Andy Bulumaku was introduced in midfield for Donny as the after effects of that first half tackle forced Armitage from the field.
The next score went the way of the hosts and it came following the Knights first jaunt into Carnegie territory of the second period. Having won a penalty Yorkshire attacked quickly through Harry Leonard who handed on to Oli Goss, the winger chipped ahead cleverly and was able to gather possession. The ball was quickly recycled and replacement hooker Ollie Hayes found front row counterpart Lee Imiolek who charged through to score under the sticks. Leonard added the extras and the Knights trailed for the first, and only, time in the game.
Carnegie continued in the same impressive vein they had started the second half following the try but the Donny defenses held firm. A Mat Clark break got the Knights firing again, the centre broke a couple of tackle to carry his side up to the home 22m and the Knights continued the attack quickly. A powerful carry from Matt Challinor was followed by the ball being spun wide, some elaborate handling in the Knights back line paid off as the ball found its way to Tyson Lewis in space. The Winger put his foot down and sprinted over and Flockhart converted, 17-20.
With the game very finely balanced and Leeds showing little signs of suffering the man disadvantage the next try was always going to be crucial and thankfully it went the way of the Knights. An over thrown line out by the home side was quickly pounced upon by skipper Michael Hills. The flanker popped a well-timed pass to the oncoming Flockhart who raced away to score. He added the extras to his effort and the Knights were ten points clear going into the final 20 minutes.
Carnegie have been one of the more successful sides in this division in recent years and they were not going to lie down and accept defeat, particularly on their own patch and they responded almost immediately with a Harry Leonard penalty. The Physicality of both teams in both attack and defence was intense and Carnegie continued to threaten. Another good scrum from the hosts won them a penalty just inside the Knights half and a remarkable strike from Leonard saw the ball sent through the posts, reducing the Knights lead to just four points
Momentum was seemingly swinging back to the home side but the Knights were able to find another gear and fought back. A superb piece of defensive work from Paul Jarvis won a penalty for Doncaster in midfield and replacement fly half Paul Roberts kicked it deep into the home 22m. Having won the lineout, the hosts infringed as they desperately tried to quell the Knights attack. With Penalty advantage Roberts attempted a long cross-field kick for Tyson Lewis, the winger caught it but good defence by Christian Georgiou prevent a score. The Knights went back to the corner and this time would not be stopped, a powerful maul surged over the line and Latu Makaafi claimed the bonus point winning score.
With the game firmly into the dying stages the Knights held a commanding nine point lead but all credit to the hosts who refused to accept defeat and went straight back on the attack. It seemed as if their relentlessness may have paid off when the impressive Harry Leonard scampered through a half gap but the fly half knocked on in the process and the referee blew for full time.
A fantastic effort by the Knights, who played some of their best rugby so far this season sees the side match the total number of league wins they recorded in 2012/13 and draw first blood in this season’s Yorkshire Regiment Trophy.
Yorkshire XV; 15. David McIlwaine, 14. Oli Goss, 13. Jon Clarke (Rob Vickerman 46’), 12. Pete Lucock (James Fitzpatrick 60’), 11. Christian Georgiou, 10. Harry Leonard, 9. Chris Pilgrim, 1. Lee Imiolek (Ben Harris 58’), 2. Phil Nilsen, 3. Ben Hooper (James Tideswell 40’), 4. Liam Edwards (Jack Ramshaw 39’), 5. Harry Casson, 6. Jack Barnard (Ollie Hayes 37’), 7. Chris Walker (Josh Bainbridge 40’), 8. Ryan Burrows (c)
Replacements; 16. Ollie Hayes, 17. Ben Harris, 18. James Tideswell,19. Jack Ramshaw, 20. Josh Bainbridge, 21. Rob Vickerman, 22. James Fitzpatrick
Tries; Clarke 23’, McIlwaine 33’, Imiolek 51’
Conv; Leonard 51’
Pens; Leonard 66’, 72’
Sin Bin; Georgiou 14’
Red Cards; Phil Nilsen 34’
Knights XV; 5 Paul Jarvis,?14 Dougie Flockhart,?13 Mat Clark,?12 Bevon Armitage (Andy Bulumakau 46’),?11 Tyson Lewis,?10 Jamie Lennard (Paul Roberts 68’),?9 Tomasi Palu (Bruno Bravo 65’), 1 Tom Davies (Richard List 53’),?2 Ben Hunter,?3 Colin Quigley (Ross Davies 66’),?4 Matt Challinor,?5 Jon Phelan (Tyler Hotson 69’),?6 Latu Makaafi,?7 Michael Hills (C),?8 Alex Shaw
Replacements; 16 Richard List, 17 Jack Bergmanas, 18 Ross Davies, 19 Tyler Hotson, 20 Paul Roberts. 21 Andy Bulumakau, 22 Bruno Bravo.
Tries; Penalty 14’, Lewis 55’, Flockhart 62’, Makaafi 75’
Conv; Flockhart 14’, 55’, 62’
Pens; Flockhart 24’, 34’
Sin Bin; Colin Quigley
Referee: Steve Lee