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Home > News > Doncaster Knights 26 - Rotherham 13
Your News Doncaster Knights 26 - Rotherham 13

Doncaster Knights win in a hard fought, but very clean, local derby against Rotherham Titans takes them up to 5th place in the Championship as well as securing them South Yorkshire bragging rights until the two teams meet again in the British and Irish Cup just before Xmas. As last week, all four Knights tries were scored by their backs which perhaps illustrate how their style of play has changed this season.

For what was always going to be a game where parity up front was always going to be an essential, Knights Director of Rugby Lynn Howells made five changes from the side that put seven tries past Plymouth away the previous weekend. Not unsurprisingly perhaps only one of these was in their free running backs where leading try scorer Matt Williams returned after illness. The other four changes were in the pack where Howells bulked up his team by bringing in Michael Cusack and Steve Boden in the front row, Glen Kenworthy at lock and Andy Boyde at blindside flanker in place of Lewis Theide, Steve Lawrie, James Craig and Zac Farivarz respectively.

After Titans centre Juan Socino put his side ahead after only 2 minutes with a well struck penalty, honours were fairly even for the next 15 minutes as the visitors stuck to their forward oriented game plan and most of the game was played out midfield. When the Knights backs struck after 20 minutes however it was with devasting effect. Knights skipper Neil Cochrane, himself a former Titans favourite, took a quick tap penalty midfield and made almost 20 metres before he was stopped. The rucked ball was then moved quickly to the left where centre Oli Goss made ground before managing to get the ball to supporting No 8 Ed Jackson whose quick pass outside to flying full back Steve McColl put him on an unstoppable run to the line for a try that was converted by fly half Tristan Roberts. Socino pegged the Knights lead back with his second penalty after 25 minutes but he missed two further attempts before half time as against one miss by Roberts to leave the half time score 7 points to 6 for Doncaster.

The Knights put themselves under pressure from the restart when they had a clearing kick near their own line charged down. There then followed a period of almost 10 minutes of scrum after scrum on the Knights line as the Titans pack went for a push over try. Play was held up twice with an injury to Titans loose head prop Nico Steenkamp, the second of which forced him to leave the field. Whilst attempting to repel a drive on his line, Knights influential skipper Cochrane was yellow carded and, almost immediately afterwards, the referee awarded the Titans a penalty try as Doncasters depleted pack infringed as the Titans attempted another pushover. Socinos conversion put the Titans into a 13 points to 7 lead but this set back pushed the Knights to even further efforts and, thereafter, they dominated the game. Even whilst down to 14 men the Knights struck back as a Rotherham defender dropped a high kick just outside his 22 and the ball was gathered by former Titans lock Matt Challinor who drove almost to the line. The ball was quickly rucked back and yet another former Rotherham man, this time scrum half Chris Hallam, evaded a couple of tackles to dive over from close in. Roberts converted the try and the Knights were back in front as Cochrane returned to the fray. The Knights were now buzzing and, with 15 minutes left, they had a series of pushover try attempts on the Titans line. Although these were resisted, the Titans had no answer the Knights moved the ball left and then right before McColl, although partly caught, put a long pass out to right winger Dougie Flockhart who raced over in the corner unopposed. The Titans had a chance when winger Peter Swatkins gathered a wayward Knights kick just inside his own half before racing away in the clear down the left touchline but the Doncaster scramble defence, lead by McColl, hunted him down a couple of metres short. As the game went towards injury time, and with the Titans down to 14 men following the sin binning of prop Anton ODonnell, the Knights attacked again and Roberts evaded two tackles close in before just managing to reach over in a third tackle to score his sides bonus point try which he himself converted.

After the game Howells said that this was an important win for his young team as they learned how to handle the pressure of a big local derby where victory means so much to the supporters and the club. He said he felt that the Knights were always capable of breaking down the Titans defence once they started moving the ball and he said he was particularly delighted that his side had managed to gain yet another try bonus point in such a tight game.

Doncaster Knights: McColl, Flockhart, Goss, Gidlow, Williams, Roberts, Hallam, Corsar (Frazier 54m), Boden (Lawrie 78m), Thiede (61m), Challinor, Kenworthy (Craig 70m), Boyde (Farivarz 78m), Jackson, Cochrane Replacements not used: Jericevich, Lewis-Pratt

Rotherham Titans: Hunt, Swatkins, Hepworth, Socino, Welding (Hampsey 34m, Godfrey 70m), Hodgson, Bedford (Rhodes 78m), Steenkamp (Quigley 46m), Loney (McGregor 78m), ODonnell (Quigley 40-42m), Harris (Sandford 70m), Dickinson, Kettle, Burrows (Baines 70m, Harris 74m for Quigley yc), Dougall

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