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Second half surge sees Knights victorious.

Jersey 17 Doncaster Knights 23

Never say die spirit sees the Knights turn around a losing half time position to record their second win in as many games in the Greene King IPA Championship.

The Knights made their longest trip of the season to St. Peters for a renewal with the Islanders of Jersey. Bitter memories of the game in April 2013 where the Knights narrowly lost out in vicious weather conditions by 13 points to 10. The defeat, whilst not mathematically, realistically condemned the Knights to National One for the 2013/14 season.

This time around the Knights, buoyed by an impressive opening day victory over Plymouth Albion, were met by idyllic weather conditions and a pristine playing surface. Unfortunately despite this it was the hosts who took the early impetus. A deep kick off was fielded by Tyson Lewis but the Knights clearance allowed Jersey to attack and flanker Latu Makaafi made a tackle that was judged too high. The penalty that followed was kicked to the corner and Jersey’s well-renowned driving maul drove home skipper Ryan Hodson over the line for an early lead.

Donny responded well. A knock on by the Islander’s at the restart set up a scrum from which debutant scrumhalf Tomasi Palu carried blind. He found Tyson Lewis who carried forward over the gain line, the Knights recycled well and were awarded a penalty soon after. Dougie Flockhart took the three on offer, which marked the start of a superb afternoon with the boot for the Scotsman.

The Knights did look dangerous at times in the opening stages, the ball carriers often broke the defensive line and chances were being made out wide but time and time again they shot themselves in the foot. Over eagerness at key moments, combined with some poor decision making and discipline meant that chance went a miss and gave the hosts opportunity to capitalize. Following a Donny infringement at the lineout the hosts kicked back to the corner. At first it seemed as if the pack had done very well to stop the ominous Jersey forwards but penalty advantage was awarded and scrum half Ryan Glynn set off on a darting run. He found little joy in field but the following play was switched blind and full back Tommy Bell, who had an impressive afternoon, raced home but could not convert his effort, 10-3.

As was the case following the first try, the Knights responded strongly but were met by a resilient Jers defence. Having made an excellent cover tackle moments earlier Tyson Lewis looked like he might be in at the other end. He collected from Bevon Armitage, following a powerful break from the centre, but superb work from winger Mark Foster stopped him just short.

The opportunities were coming for Griff’s men but as the half grew into the second quarter every Jersey attack was met with nervous glances at the scoreboard by Donny fans. Thankfully it wasn’t long until they added to their total. Jamie Lennard spotted a gap in the defensive line and carried forward he found Tyson who again was caught with a superb cover tackle but this time Matt Challinor was on hand to pick up and power over.

The closing stages of the first half were very close, Tomasi Palu almost put Mat Clark in for a try but once more the Islander’s defence was there to stop it. Jersey created chances of their own and their driving maul was often a thorn in the Knights side but neither team were able to add to their scoreand referee Gamage’s whistle blew with the score at 10-8.

Things did not start well after the interval for the Knights, following a couple of unremarkable minutes in possession they lost the ball and the home back line attacked swiftly. Winger Mark Foster elected to grubber ahead down his flank which had Tyson back peddling. The bounce of the ball evaded Lewis and it was collected by the hosts with the ball going through a couple of pairs of hands and eventually to winger Jack Burroughs. He raced home under the posts and Bell comfortably converted.

Now trailing by 17 – 8 the Knights had a real task on their hands and they set about it promptly.

Just two minutes after Burroughs try the Doncaster pack worked their way in the Jersey’s 22m and forced an infringements from their opponents on the floor at the breakdown. Dougie took advantage to reduce the deficit to six points. Immediately after however the Knights were back under the cosh when flanker Ben Maidment nicely collected the restart, another kick toward the corner came in and Paul Jarvis did very well to clear his lines.

Penalties continued to be an issue for the Knights, as with every opportunity Jersey looked to get in to the corners and utilize their fearful driving line out. On the 55 minutes mark it looked as if they may just have got over for a bonus point fourth try but great work from Challinor and Alex Shaw disrupted the menacing oncoming drive.

Whilst the Knights line out wasn’t at it’s best, the forwards excelled at scrum time and made the advantage tell as the game grew in to the later stages. Two scrum penalties in quick succession gave Dougie, albeit a long range, chance to add another three to his total for the day. He measured the wind perfectly to slot it home and bring the Knights within three points.

Shortly after, Tom Davies replaced Richard List but it did nothing to slow the Donny scrum. The very next time the packs locked horns the Knights pack won another penalty and once again Flockhart, who was almost faultless with his kicking, converted to tie the scores.

As the game entered the final 20 minutes Griff introduced Jon Phelan and Ross Davies into the fray for Tyler Hotson and Colin Quigley. The momentum remained firmly with Doncaster and they fought their way up field giving Phelan a chance to show his skills at the line out after good pressure forced a kick out deep in Jers territory. The driving Donny line out was pulled down illegally and in such a fine vein of form Flockhart jumped at the chance to have a go at posts from out wide. He made no mistake and the Knights took the lead for the first time since the game began.

With less than ten minutes to play, home head coach Harvey Biljon introduced two pairs of fresh legs with Mark McCrea and Paula Kaho entering the field of play. Under pressure the Knights won their own line out just a couple of meters from the try line and second row Pierce Phillips brought down Challinor midair meaning Lennard a chance to ease the danger. The fly half made great distance with the kick, building a platform for the Knights to attack. With the lineout ball secured the Knights forward put together a handful of phases and the patient play drew a penalty out of the frustrated home defence. Dougie stepped up and, yet again, was on them money taking his personal total to 18 points for the afternoon and putting the Knights ahead by 6 points.

The final stages of the game saw the Knights defend some audacious Jersey attacks and it looked as if it may have just come off for the hosts when Mark McCrea and Mark Foster combined to put the replacement through under the posts. Unfortunately for the screaming Jersey supporters the two crossed paths and the Knights were awarded a penalty. This proved to be the final telling play of the game and the Knights held on to complete a stunning comeback.

Next week will be the Knights stiffest test for some time, at home against Worcester Warriors, but they go in to the tie having recorded two wins from two!

 

Jersey RFC

1. Sam Lockwood (Ignacio Lancuba 10’) 2. Martin Garcia-Veiga 3. Harry Williams 4. Pierce Phillips 5. Dave Markham (Alex Rae 45’) 6. Ben Maidment (Paula Kaho 66’) 7. Ryan Hodson (capt) 8. Michael Noone 9. Ryan Glynn 10. Jonny Bentley 11. Jack Burroughs 12. Lewis Robling 13. Drew Locke (Mark McCrea 66’) 14. Mark Foster 15. Tommy Bell

Replacements: 16. Ignacio Lancuba 17. Gareth Harris 18. Danny Herriot 19. Alex Rae 20. Paula Kaho 21. Nicky Griffiths 22. Mark McCrea

 

Tries; Hodson 3’ Bell 16’ Burroughs 43’

Pens;

Conv; Bell 43’

Sin Bin;

 

Doncaster Knights XV

1.Richard List (Tom Davies 53’) 2.Ben Hunter 3.Colin Quigley (Ross Davies 62’) 4.Matt Challinor 5.Tyler Hotson (Jon Phelan 64’) 6.Latu Makaafi 7.Michael Hills (C) 8.Alex Shaw 9.Tomasi Palu 10.Jamie Lennard 11.Tyson Lewis 12.Bevon Armitage 13.Mat Clark 14.Dougie Flockhart 15.Paul Jarvis

Replacements: 16.Tom Davies 17.Jack Bergmanas 18.Ross Davies 19.Jon Phelan 20.Bruno Bravo 21.Paul Roberts 22.Andy Bulumakau

 

Tries; Challinor 26’

Pens; Flockhart 6’, 45’, 53’, 56’, 65’, 71’

Conv;

Sin Bin;

 

Referee: Darren Gamage

Attendance: 2,090

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