Knights 25-25 Bedford Blues.
Late drama at Castle Park saw the Knights just unable to hold on for victory in an entertaining tussle with Bedford Blues.
Having fought back from a ten point deficit the Knights could not keep the Blues at bay in the late stages and saw a final play drop goal fall the wrong side of the uprights.
The game started at a frantic pace with both sides having breached the whitewash with barely five minutes played.
Bedfird struck first having gained great field position courtesy of Harry Sheppard. The fly half pinged a midfield penalty deep into the Donny 22m and from their the visitors rallied. A good maul was followed by purposeful carries in field and eventually George Edgson found a gap at the base of the ruck to score. Sheppard converted, 0-7.
Donny’s response was immediate and impressive. Michael Hills took the ball very flat and under pressure but got it away to Alex Shaw who went through to find Tom Hicks in support. The lock was able to get his arms out of contact to offload and possession was then sent to Tyson Lewis who worked his way through the coverage and over the whitewash.
Following the try, the Knights threaded together some nice possession and were finding holes when the outside backs got opportunity to run.
Lloyd Hayes enjoyed several half breaks where one more offload might have unlocked the Blues. Opportunity knocked for the Knights and a wide pass to Tyson Lewis was thrown, unfortunately Sheppard was alert to it and intercepted. Charlie Foley tracked back to pull the fly half down in the Knights half but quickly recycled ball made it’s way to winger Rich Lane who finished tidily.
The Blues kept up the pressure and added penalty from Sheppard shortly after meaning the Knights, again, found themselves on the wrong end of a 10-point disadvantage.
Donny improved markedly from this point on and looked much the better side for the remainder of the first half.
An intelligent series of attacks was initially well defended by the Blues but eventually drew a penalty that Cusack stuck deep into the visitors 22m. The initial line out was illegally dropped so the forwards went again and on the second attempt Ben Hunter was driven over the line to touch down. Flockhart added the extras; 12-15.
Bedford almost produced an immediate response but, with the line at his mercy, replacement wing Jordan Burns was unable to hold on to a Michael LeBourgeois chip and from the resulting scrum the Knights won a penalty to clear all danger.
A kick exchange followed and ended in the Knights back three running possession at the Blues defence. Good ground was made with decent support as Foley lead Donny down the right hand side. Following quickly recycled ball Alex Shaw showed an impressive turn of pace to break and charge towards the line. It looked very much like the number eight had got over but he was stopped just shy and from the breakdown Colin Quigley went over for his third (THIRD!!!!!) try of the season.
Flockhart could not add the extras but the Knights went into the break leading 17-15.
The Knights carried their momentum into the second half and quickly extended their lead. Concerted pressure drew a penalty for a no arm tackle on Quigley and in good field position Flockhart gladly accepted the three pointer.
Only a couple of minutes later the Knights secured a bonus point as Hunter crossed for his second.
Having collected the restart, the pack formed a powerful maul and made fantastic headway before desperation saw the hosts drop the drive, giveaway a penalty and really were lucky to escape without a yellow card.
Cusack struck the penalty deep into the Bedford 22m and the Donny pack went to drive, the visitors stood off initially but eventually engaged from which point the Knights surged forward for Hunter to bag his second.
A twenty-point swing meant the Knights were now up by ten and in a position to put the game to bed but it was no to be. The final half an hour belonged largely to Bedford who starved Donny of possession in the late stages to earn a hard-fought draw.
The fact Bedford did not add to their total till after the hour mark is credit to the Knights defence - as is the fact that the Blues registered just three tries in the game.
Replacement fly half Will Hooley made it a one score game on 62 minutes after mounting pressure on the Knights forced a penalty. Then with just three minutes on the clock the Blues found a breakthrough as Jordan Burns crossed in the corner following a series of penalties which saw the Knights reduced to fourteen men; Owen Evans paying the price of repeated team infringements.
The try made the score 25-23 leaving Hooley with a tricky conversion to tie things up. From the second the ball left his boot there was no doubt that it was going to sail over.
Time remained for one last attack and the Knights were able to win possession back promptly at the restart. Industrious play from Lloyd Hayes saw Donny get deep into the Blues half and as the pack pounded away in the tight Simon Humberstone dropped back into the pocket. Several phases passed before Michael Heaney spun it deep to Humberstone but his effort drifted wide of the uprights and with that referee John Meredith brought proceedings to a close.
Victory stolen from the Knights late on once again but a much improved showing from Clive Griffiths’ charges - hopefully a performance to build on next weekend at Ealing.
Doncaster Knights: 15 Charlie Foley, 14 Dougie Flockhart, 13 Lloyd Hayes, 12 Will Owen, 11 Tyson Lewis, 10 Declan Cusack (Simon Humberstone 70’), 9 Tom James (Michael Heaney 65’), 1 Richard List (Owen Evans 55’), 2 Ben Hunter (Curtis Langdon 70’), 3 Colin Quigley (Joe Sproston 70’), 4 Matt Challinor, 5 Tom Hicks (Morgan Eames 62’), 6 Jack Ram (Jason Hill 65’), 7 Michael Hills ©, 8 Alex Shaw
Replacements; 16) Curtis Langdon, 17) Owen Evans, 18) Joe Sproston, 19) Morgan Eames, 20) Jason Hill, 21) Michael Heaney, 22) Simon Humberstone
Tries; Lewis 7’, Hunter 27’, 48’, Quigley 40’
Conv; Flockhart 27’
Pens; Flockhart 44
Bedford Blues; 15. Chris Czekaj, 14. Rich Lane , 13. Ollie Dodge, 12. Michael LeBourgeois (c), 11. Dean Adamson (Jordan Burns 30’), 10. Harry Sheppard (Will Hooley 57’), 9. Lee Dickson, 1. Sean McCarthy (Camil Parilli-Ocampo 56’), 2. George Edgson (Tom Lindsay 56’), 3. Alex Penny (Dave Spelman 56’), 4. Jordan Onojaife, 5. Will Carrick-Smith, 6. Paul Tupai (Alex Rae 47’), 7. Ben Adams (Josh Buggea 57’), 8. Jarad Williams
Replacements: 16. Tom Lindsay, 17. Camilo Parilli-Ocampo, 18. Dave Spelman, 19. Alex Rae, 20. Josh Buggea, 21. Jordan Burns, 22. Will Hooley
Tries; Edgson 5’, Lane 17’, Burns 78’
Conv; Sheppard 5’, Hooley 78’
Pens; Sheppard 22’, Hooley 62’
Referee: John Meredith