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Home > News > Rotherham 35 - Doncaster 34
Your News Rotherham 35 - Doncaster 34

Indiscipline cost Doncaster Knights their local South Yorkshire bragging rights when, in spite of having 60% of the territory and possession and scoring three tries to Rotherhams two, they gave away seven kickable penalties all of which were goaled by Titans outstanding goal kicker Argentinean Juan Pablo Socino in spite of the abysmal conditions in which the match was played.

For this local derby, vital for both sides in their search to secure their place in the Championship promotion play offs, Knights Director of Rugby Lynn Howells made six changes from the team that had scraped a win against Plymouth Albion the previous weekend. In the backs, Andy Wright came in for the rested Matt Williams on the wing whilst Oli Goss returned in the centre after injury in place of Chris Briers. In the pack, Dan Frazier replaced Stuart Corsar at prop, Steve Boden came in for Steve Lawrie, away on Scotland A duty, at hooker, Matt Challinor was selected at lock in place of youngster Dom Parsons and Latu Makaafi came in for the injured Zack Farivarz at flanker.

The first 20 minutes was a typical local derby as both sides sort to impose themselves with the Knights enjoying perhaps the better of these early exchanges even though the only scores were two penalties apiece for Socino for the Titans and fly half Tristan Roberts for the Knights. At this point the game opened up as Rotherham lost flanker Sam Dickinson to the sin bin and, when the Knights gained possession through full back Steve McColl on his own 22, they counter attacked with deadly effect. McColl reached his own 10 metre line before linking with centre Oli Goss who sliced through the Titans defence who, after drawing the Rotherham full back Richard Welding on his 22, put supporting flanker Latu Makaafi on an unstoppable race for try that Roberts converted. Socino and Roberts then exchanged penalties before the Titans scored their first try when, following what looked suspiciously like a forward pass, centre Jonny Hepworth make a 30 yard run before linking up with winger Peter Swatkins who dived over for a try that Socino converted. Socino then put the Titans back in the lead with his fourth penalty before the Knights scored their second try. A high up and under by McColl was dropped by the Rotherham defence close to their own line and Roberts was on hand to pick up the loose ball before scampering over for his 8th try of the season that he also converted.

Turning around 23 points to 19 behind, the Titans needed an early score and the Knights duly obliged by giving Socino another penalty chance that he goaled. After 53 minutes it was the Knights turn to go back on the score sheet when, following a poor Rotherham clearance kick, McColl gathered the ball 40 metres out and close to touch before dropping a great goal in the conditions. The Titans hit straight back almost immediately and they piled pressure on the Knights try line. Just when it looked at if Doncaster had weathered the storm, Titans scrum half spotted a gap in the Knights defence close in and dashed over unopposed for his sides second try that Socino again converted to take his side back into the lead. Doncaster were undaunted and they took the game back at the Titans. They won a lineout just inside their own half and then drove the Titans back fully 20 metres before releasing their backs. Roberts took on the disorganised Rotherham defence and made a good break before passing inside to centre PJ Gidlow who then put out a floating pass to fellow centre Goss who raced over wide out for his sides third try which, unfortunately, Roberts could not quite convert. The Knights then gifted another penalty that Socino goaled to take his side back into the lead before Roberts then dropped a 30 metre goal to put the Knights back in front. With 6 minutes left, the Knights did the inevitable and gave away another penalty which Socino willing took and the Knights were behind yet again. They threw every thing at the Titans line in those last few minutes winger Andy Wright was denied a try when the referee spotted an infringement; a two to one overlap on the left wing was denied by a poor pass; scrum half Nathan Jones was halted just short and his inside pass was snaffled up by a covering Titans player who looked like he had come in from an off side position; former Titan Matt Challinor made a storming run deep into the Rotherham 22 but his support could not get to him; and then, on the final whistle, the referee failed to give the Knights a penalty when a Rotherham player had held on to the ball after being tackled on his own line.

After the game, Howells was exasperated by the Knights indiscipline which he had no doubt had cost his side the game. However he complemented both sides on their displays in the conditions and for the exciting game of rugby they had produced. However their losing bonus point was enough to ensure that the Knights will be in the promotion play offs where they will almost certainly be joined by Rotherham after their victory. From a purist point of view, it was nice to see such a clean game and one not marred by the constant use of substitutes in the final minutes.

Rotherham Titans: Welding (Godfrey 54), Swatkins, Hepworth, Socino, James S, James M, Bedford, Kilbane, Loney, Quigley, Harris, Smidt, Dickinson, Burrows, Dougall Replacements not used: George, Aikman, McGowan, Baines, Rhodes, Hunt

Doncaster Knights: McColl, Wright, Goss, Gidlow, Flockhart, Roberts, Jones, Frazier (Corsar 57), Boden, Cusack, Kenworthy (Parsons HT), Challinor, Makaafi, Jackson, Cochrane Replacements not used: Walker, Hampson, Lewis-Pratt, Briers, Thiede

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