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Home > News > Doncaster 45 - Esher 42
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Your News Doncaster 45 - Esher 42

After scoring three tries in the opening 14 minutes and holding a 42 points to 21 lead with 30 minutes to go, the Knights threatened to implode in spectacular fashion as Esher fought their way back for a bonus point with three converted tries in the final 20 minutes courtesy of the home side who seemed determined to cede possession to their visitors at every opportunity.

For this match, which the Knights needed to win to confirm their sixth place position going into the Championship promotion play offs, Director of Rugby Lynn Howells reverted to his “tried and tested” after his side’s disappointing performance during the week against Nottingham. In the backs this meant recalls for the centre combination of PJ Gidlow and Chris Briers and fly half Tristan Roberts and, in the pack, for the front row of Dan Frazier, Steve Boden and Michael Cusack and flankers Latu Makaafi and Neil Cochrane.

Doncaster started in spectacular fashion in the opening minute with a 50 metre try by winger Matt Williams during which he beat three defenders after being given the space by good passes by Roberts and Gidlow. Their second try, after 7 minutes, was scored by hooker Boden after the Knights pack had driven over the line from a 5 metre line out. After full back Sam Ulph had kicked a penalty for Esher, the Knight’s third try was scored by Gidlow after Roberts put right winger Dougie Flockhart into space against his old club inside his own half and he made ground before passing to the supporting Briers whose inside pass gave Gidlow a simple run in. All three tries were converted by Roberts. Shortly afterwards the Knights scrummaging power was disrupted after prop Frazier had to helped from the field after a scrum had collapsed. With 27 minutes gone and the Knights on the attack just outside Esher’s 22, a pass was dropped and fly hacked ahead before bouncing into the hands of centre Phil MacKenzie who was tackled just short of the Knights line by full back Steve McColl. However, Esher won the ruck and the ball was moved to the right to Wasp’s dual registered centre Seb Jewell who raced over for a try that Ulph converted. Esher then scored two more penalties through Ulph and the score was 21 to 16 to the Knights. At this point the Knights suffered further injury problems when influential fly half Roberts had to leave the field with a shoulder injury. In the second minute of first half injury time, Esher lost possession on the halfway line and the ball was moved quickly left to McColl, now operating at fly half, who made ground before linking with No 8 Ed Jackson whose well timed pass put the flying Williams on his way from 40 metres for his second try which McColl converted.

The Knights were out of their blocks straight from the restart when, following a lineout, McColl put Jackson through a gap on the Esher 10 metre line and he made ground before passing back inside to McColl who had a clear run in for a try that he also converted. The Knights then had to withstand a period of intense pressure on their own goal line before Esher winger Gerard Mullen spotted a mismatch in the home defence and he ran through to score his side’s second try. However, the Knights hit back almost immediately when skipper Cochrane crashed over from close in after the initial surge from a line out 10 metres out had been stopped just short. McColl’s conversion extended the Knight’s lead to 21 points. Now it was Esher’s turn to throw caution to the wind as spearheaded by Jewell and former Rotherham flyhalf Mike Whitehead now on at fly half, they benefitted from the Knight’s generosity to score two tries through scrum half James MacKenzie and Mullen, both of which were converted by Ulph to reduce their deficit to 7 points. With injury time fast approaching, McColl appeared to make the Knights safe with a penalty but Esher had other ideas and, deep in injury time, they scored another try through No 8 Sean Renwick that Ulph converted. The remaining minute was played out with the Knight’s supporters more than a little anxious but they held on for a victory that was far more decisive than the final score suggests.

As the Knights look forward to the promotion play offs, their coaching staff will have to address their continuing problems in terms of discipline in respect of penalties given away and possession ceded. However they once again showed that with the ball in hand, and when they have the confidence to use it, they are a match for any team in the Championship.

Doncaster Knights: McColl, Flockhart, Briers, Gidlow, Williams (Hampson 70), Roberts (Devlin 34), Jones, Frazier (Thiede 25), Boden (Lawrie 55), Cusack (Corsar 73), Challinor, Parsons, Makaafi (Farivarz 62), Jackson, Cochrane Replacement not used: Walker

Esher: Ulph, Hylton (Loizides 52), Jewell, P Mackenzie, Mullen, Slemen (Whitehead 60), J Mackenzie (Gibbs 73), Millard (Tunnicliffe HT), Walker (Campbell 52), Nebbett, Rudski, Barker (Gaynor 62), Downey (Clayton 62), Renwick, Stitcher

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