Doncaster Knights 22 Cornish Pirates 24
The Knights entered their clash with Cornish Pirates buoyed by a superb derby win last Sunday and in the knowledge that a victory would compound their strong to the season as domestic action takes a three week hiatus for the opening rounds of the British & Irish Cup.
However standing in their way were a Cornish Pirates side who have a good record over the Knights and desperate to improve on an indifferent start to the 2014/15 season. Despite the distance, The Pirates brought a healthy travelling support and rain held off making for idyllic playing conditions.
What ensued was a classic case of a game of two halves the Knights controlled the opening forty minutes and will have been slightly disappointed to have recorded just a seven point advantage. In the second half a completely revitalized Pirates outfit emerged and blew the Knights away before holding on for a two-point win.
The Knights started brightly and attacked from the kick off, patiently working their way in to the Pirates half. The visitors were able to repel initial Donny attack but they continued to press forward, punching holes in the Pirates defence. Having made steady progress towards the 22m-line flanker Latu Maakaafi spotted a gap at the ruck and broke, the back-rower was ably supported by Mat Clark who collected to sprint over for the game’s opening try. Flockhart added the extras and the Knights were looking good.
Doncaster continued their impressive start in to the mid stage of the first half and performed well at both the restart and line out, areas where they had struggled in recent games. Despite some clever attacking play and patient work in possession the Knights were unable to make a second breakthrough and lost the ball after giving away a penalty for holding on at the ruck. Pirates fly- half Keiron Hallett put the kick to touch, the visitors set up a maul that was deemed to be illegally brought down and Hallett opened his side’s account with a well-struck penalty.
The momentum of the game remained firmly with the Knights as the half wore on, particularly at scrum time where the Donny pack seemed the have the better of their opponent winning back to back scrum penalties. The second penalty was put to touch and the Pirates soon infringed again, joining the maul from an offside position, this time Flockhart elected to go for posts and made no mistake.
Opportunities were coming for both sides but it was still the Knights that held the upper hand. An attack initiated by a Tomasi Palu break saw the Knights camped in the visitors 22m but despite tens of phases they could not get the all-important score. The drive came to an end when Tyson Lewis thundered into winger Kyle Moyle in a collision that forced the Pirates man from the field. The referee restarted the game with Knights scrum and another solid push brought another penalty as well as a yellow card for loose head prop Jack Andrew.
Against fourteen men the Knights went to the corner with a real chance to extend their lead but having secured line out ball they lost possession in the following phase and the Pirates cleared their lines. Half time came shortly after and the Knights went into the changing rooms in control and leading by 7 points.
The Pirates side that returned for the second half demonstrated more endeavor in the opening ten minutes of second period than they had in the entire opening half.
The first potent attack of the second period culminated in a well-weighted grubber kick that forced Flockhart to carry back over his own line resulting in a 5m scrum. A penalty to the visitors followed shortly after and the Pirates went to the corner. Two more penalties were given again the Knights as they continued to fall foul off the referee’s whistle, both were kick to the corner but Tyler Hotson managed to spoil the Pirates throw and Lennard alleviated the pressure.
Pirates continued to press and with the Knights, on a final warning, were soon up against fourteen men. Jamie Lennard found himself on the wrong side of the ruck and as he returned to a onside position scrum half Tom Kessell appeared to throw the ball intentionally into him. A penalty was awarded and the Knights fly-half was shown a yellow card.
At this point, despite trailing, the momentum had firmly swung towards the visitors and Bevon Armitage produced a miraculous cover tackle to prevent an opening try for the Pirates. The centre’s heroics only worked to delay a Pirates score, as shortly after the defence was breached. Another Pirates penalty was put to touch and following a solid long line out, scrum half Tom Kessell was able to squeeze down the blind side to score. Hallett converted and scores were leveled.
Unfortunately the opening try served to burst the dam and the Pirates did what Donny couldn’t in the first half and capitalized upon the momentum they had built up. Two quick fire tries followed, the first from impressive full back Matt Evans and then from Hallett who converted both meaning the Knights had seen a seven point lead turn in to a fourteen point deficit in just 23 minutes of second half action.
The Knights needed something and DoR Griffiths made wholesale substitutions with; Bruno Bravo, Ross Davies, Jack Bergmanas, Jon Phelan and Andy Bulumakau all entering the fray. The home side got a chance when Evans failed to collect what looks a relatively simple kick giving Donny a scrum in the visitors 22m. Solid scrum ball provided a platform to attack and after several strong carries number six Makaafi fought his way over the line. Dougie was unable to convert but the Knights had a glimmer of hope.
Replacement second row Jon Phelan won possession back for the Knights following the restart and they had a penalty shortly after when Paul Roberts received a late shot from replacement second-row Will Graulich. The fly half stuck the penalty to touch and once again the Knights forwards rallied to battle their way just short of the Pirates line and when Skipper Michael Hills spotted half a gap he was able to force his way through to put the Knights just four points behind. Flockhart made no mistake this time and with seconds left to play they were just two points a drift.
Unsurprisingly the visitors kicked the restart as far downfield as possible and the Knights attacked back from their own 22m. They fought their way towards the half way line and won a penalty but from such long range and time all but up were forced to tap it. Donny endeavoured to fight their way into Pirate’s territory but solid defence forced full back Paul Jarvis in to touch which the game was brough to a close.
A disappointing result for the Knights who will get a chance to make amends in a fortnight’s time as the Pirates return for the British and Irish Cup.
Knights XV; 15 Paul Jarvis,14 Dougie Flockhart,?13 Mat Clark,?12 Bevon Armitage,?11 Tyson Lewis (Andy Bulumakau 64’),?10 Jamie Lennard (Paul Roberts 59’), 9 Tomasi Palu (Bruno Bravo 64’), 1 Richard List (Tom Davies 54’),?2 Ben Hunter (Jack Bergmanas 64’),?3 Colin Quigley (Ross Davies 64’),?4 Matt Challinor (Jon Phelan 66’),?5 Tyler Hotson,?6 Latu Makaafi,?7 Michael Hills (C),?8 Alex Shaw
Replacements; 16 Tom Davies, 17 Jack Bergmanas, 18 Ross Davies, 19 Jon Phelan, 20 Paul Roberts. 21 Andy Bulumakau, 22 Bruno Bravo.
Tries; Clark 5’, Makaafi 72’, Hills 79’.
Pens; Flockhart 24’
Conv; Flockhart 5’, 79’
Sin Bin: Jamie Lennard 49’
Cornish Pirates: 15 Matt Evans, 14 Kieran Goss, 13 Tom Riley, 12 Tom Hendrickson 11 Kyle Moyle (Laurence May 34’), 10 Kieran Hallett, 9 Tom Kessell (Gavin Cattle 72’), 1 Jack Andrew, 2 Aaron Carpenter (Tom Channon 26’), 3 Alan Paver (Tyler Gendall 64’), 4 Will Carrick Smith (Will Graulich 64’), 5 Darren Barry, 6 Chris Morgan (capt), 7 Alex Cheesman, 8 Laurie McGlone.
Tries; Kessell 53’, Evans 57’, Hallett 63’
Pens; Hallett 10’
Conv; Hallett 53’, 57’, 63’
Sin Bin Jack Andrew 38’
Replacements: 16 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 17 Tom Channon, 18 Tyler Gendall, 19 Will Graulich, 20 Joe Atkinson, 21 Gavin Cattle, 22 Laurence May.
Referee: Greg MacDonald