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Home > News > Ayr 23 - Doncaster 17
Your News Ayr 23 - Doncaster 17

It was a subdued Doncaster side that made the long journey back from Scotland after a very disappointing performance in their final British and Irish Cup game against a spirited Ayr side that deservedly beat the Knights for a place in the quarter finals.

For their trip north, the Knights made a number of changes to their injury hit squad as they sought to ease players back in whilst looking at a number of the younger ones in a more competitive surrounding. Thus Tom Doughty and Lewis Thiede started in the front row at hooker and prop respectively: Leeds dual registered/loan players Chris Walker, Christian Lewis-Pratt, Craig Hampson and Oli Denton were selected at flanker, fly half, scrum half and wing: whilst Andy Gates, out most of the season with injury and illness, was given a chance at centre.

The Knights were out of their blocks first for the first 5 minutes as they put Ayr under pressure but could not turn their possession into points. However, the first time Ayr got into the Knights half, they won a line out about 20 metres out and, after putting the Doncaster defence under pressure, they moved the ball to the right where their centre Mark Stewart broke through a gap to race over for a try that fly half Ross Curle converted. Although Knights fly half Lewis-Pratt kicked a penalty almost from the restart, shortly afterwards Ayr took advantage of poor defence on the left flank to make ground before the ball was moved inside to lock Damien Kelly who raced over almost unopposed. With 24 minutes gone, the Knights lost control of the ball inside their own 22 and it bounced to Curle who scored his sides third try. Although the Knights fought their way back into the game they could not find a way through the Ayr defence and they reached half-time 17 points to 3 in arrears.

Disaster struck the Knights early in the second half when they first of all lost Denton with a shoulder injury and then, shortly afterwards, having replaced two backs to look at other players, they firstly lost winger Paul Devlin with a head injury and then substitute PJ Gidlow was led off with a broken arm. The Knights were thus forced to place the remainder of the game with replacement flanker, Neil Cochrane, on one wing and starting flanker Latu Makaafi on the other with a consequential reshuffling of the pack which saw prop Lewis Thiede moving to lock. Between these mishaps Curle extended Ayrs lead with a penalty. Once the reorganised team, with a replacement front row of props Michael Cusack and Andy Brown and hooker Steve Lawrie, settled down the Knights got back into the game with tries from close in by No 8 Ed Jackson and hooker Lawrie from close in both of which were converted by Lewis-Pratt even though Curle kicked another penalty between these two scores. As injury time approached and only 6 points behind, the beleaguered Knights threw everything into the attack but Ayrs defence managed to just keep them out as the final whistle went.

The Knights will rue the fact that, apart from the opening 5 minutes and the final 10, they did not play with any intensity as they could not retain possession for any length of time as they either dropped the ball, got turned over or were penalised. However, it did give the Knights management the opportunity to look at and learn about a number of players as they looked at their squad for next season.

Ayr: Steele (McClune 57), Manning, Ferguson, Stewart, Taylor, Curle, McFarlane (Sampson 48), Reid, Adair (Fenwick 52), Kelly A (Gilding 52), Sutherland (Stewart 60), Kelly D, Colhoun, Dunlop, Burke Replacement: Nimmo, Tippett

Doncaster Knights: Flockhart, Denton (McColl 44), Briers, Gates (Gidlow 50 Cusack 55), Devlin (Cochrane 52), Lewis-Pratt, Hampson (Jones 50), Corsar (Brown 55), Doughty (Lawrie 46), Thiede, Kenworthy, Challinor, Makaafi, Jackson, Walker

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