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Home > News > Manchester 23 - Doncaster 29
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Your News Manchester 23 - Doncaster 29

Doncaster went ahead by 19 points after only 22 minutes but then fell foul of the referee around half-time losing two players to the sin bin in the space of 5 minutes. The two man advantage allowed Manchester to claw their way back into the game with a converted try and two penalties before the Knights made the game safe by scoring two tries to Manchester’s one in the last 10 minutes.

After beating Rotherham Titans by 28 points to 22 last Sunday in a match that could be described as a “curate’s egg”, Doncaster’s Director of Rugby Lynn Howells made a number of the changes to the Knights team. Howells, explaining his selection, said that Ngalu Ta’u had not been included to give his damaged ear some rest and that Justin Bishop had been released to play in the Help for Heroes Challenge Match at Twickenham. Into their places came Michael Cusack and Donavon Van Vuuren respectively. Elsewhere Jamie Lennard was given a chance to display his skills at fullback, Tom Davies replaced Richard List at prop and Neil Cochrane came in for Simon Grainger as Howells started picking “horses for courses” in what he saw as being a long, hard season. On the bench there was a first selection for Knights French lock Boumedienne Allam

Although Knights had almost all of the early play it took them until 17 minutes to pierce the Manchester defence. Doncaster threw long from a line out inside their own half and flanker Cochrane linked with No 8 Adam Kettle who made ground into the Manchester half. When tackled the ball was recycled to the left where centre Bevon Armitage who made ground before passing inside to Van Vuuren who scored wide out. After 28 minutes Kettle again made ground, this time deep into the Manchester 22, before the ball was fed to scrum half Jamie Albinson who sold a dummy to run over unopposed from 10 metres to give Lennard a simple conversion. Almost from the kick off the Knights scored again. From a ruck 30 metres out on the left, the ball was moved to the right where fly half Ali Warnock put Kettle through on a perfect line through the Manchester defence to score between the posts to give Lennard another simple conversion. Manchester fought their way back into the game with two penalties by Gareth Wynne as, just before half-time, Knights prop Tom Davies was yellow carded for a ruck infringement. With Doncaster needing to compose themselves they lost another player to the sin bin when fly half Ali Warnock was penalised for an alleged late tackle.

Doncaster started the second half 19 points to 6 ahead but Manchester scored just after they went back to 14 men when flanker Garth Dew was driven over following a lineout close to the Knights line for a try which Wynne converted. Over the next 10 minutes Lennard kicked two penalties for the Knights before Wynne got one back for Manchester. With the game drifting neither side were able to score until after 69 minutes. Knights won the ball just inside the Manchester half and an astute diagonal kick by Warnock almost led to a try by winger Chris Hughes but, after he was stopped just short, the ball was moved firstly right and then left before a long pass by Van Vuuren put Armitage over in the left hand corner. This try gave the Knights their bonus point and Lennard’s excellent touchline conversion put them 32 points to 16 ahead. As the game approached injury time Manchester attacked down the left flank and, as the play approached the Knights 22, they seemed to have it covered but an inside pass put fly half Richard Wainwright on a diagonal run to the posts for a try that he converted himself. Only now 9 points behind Manchester sensed a bonus point and ran the kick off but the Knights defence was sound. After Manchester had won a scrum, under pressure they put in a chip ahead inside their own 22 and Doncaster regained possession. After the ball was moved smartly to the right by Van Vuuren to replacement Anthony Carter who has a good run before good work resulted in Armitage putting Hughes over in the corner that Warnock converted with an excellent kick for the last score of the game.

After the game Doncaster could reflect on an expected victory by a young developing side showing improvements in key areas of the game that showed the benefits of full-time rugby. Obviously things are still very much “work in progress” and they will need to become more focussed when they play comparative sides. The biggest disappointment was the penalty count which was heavily against the Knights in the second half particularly.

Manchester: Coulbeck; Wellock; Parrott; Rawlings; Wynne (Wilson 70); Wainwright; Stringer (Runciman 59); Gadd (Mantell 70); Oxley (Pratt 64); Flynn; Ralph (Collier 59); Norris (Keep 70); Owen; Dew (Lewis 64); Moss

Doncaster Knights: Lennard (Carter 73); Hughes C; Tonga’uiha (McColl 68); Armitage; Van Vuuren; Warnock; Albinson (Hallam 73); Davies (Toke 53); Boden; Cusack (List 73); Smith (Allam 70); Kenworthy; Griffiths (Granger 64); Cochrane; Kettle

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