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Home > News > Doncaster Knights 24 - Cornish Pirates 24
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Your News Doncaster Knights 24 - Cornish Pirates 24

Doncaster Knights managed to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory when, after leading 21 points to 10 after 60 minutes, they allowed Pirates to dominate the final quarter and it was only a penalty just before the end of the game by Jamie Lennard that allowed them to rescue the game and share the spoils.

Knights Director of Rugby Lynn Howells made three changes from the side that had beaten Coventry the previous week as he shuffled his 22 man match day squad. Jamie Albinson came in for Chris Hallam at scrum half; Tongan international prop Ngalu Ta’u replaced Michael Cusack at prop and Simon Grainger got the call over Neil Cochrane at flanker. Knights winger Wes Davies faced his former club whilst former Doncaster player Tom Luke was included at centre in the Pirates team. In addition, Rhys Jones, son of former Knights Director of Rugby Kingsley Jones played for the visitors at fly half.

Doncaster, playing into a diagonal wind, opened the scoring with a penalty by fly half Lennard after 11 which was cancelled out almost immediately by one by Jones for the visitors. Gradually the Knights pack started to get the upper hand but Pirates used the wind well to keep the home side pinned in their half for periods of the game. The Knights missed a good scoring opportunity after 15 minutes when a scintillating midfield break by Hudson Tonga’uiha was supported by fellow centre Bevon Armitage but he was forced to die with the ball when the rest of his support did not get to him. Doncaster’s pack was rewarded after 21 minutes when, following a close attacking lineout, flanker Simon Grainger was driven over for a try which Lennard converted. Although there were no further scores in the half both sides had their opportunities with Pirates, in particular, spoiling their chances by wayward passes with the Knight’s defence in trouble.

Turning around 10 points to 3 ahead and with the wind advantage, the Knights were soon on the attack as they pressurised the Pirates down the left flank. After winning a scrum close in, they moved the ball to the right and, after another ruck, Lennard spotted a gap in the Pirates defence to race through and score his first try for the Knights to put them 15 points to 3 ahead. However the Pirates fought back and from a lineout in midfield they attacked through their backs. After stopping this attack, the Knights defence was opened up when the ball was moved to the right by centre Paul Devlin who, when confronted by the cover, threw an audacious reverse pass to his supporting winger Rhodri McAfee who score a try which Jones converted. Just after this score the Knights lost their Tongan international No 8 Josh Afu with a leg injury which seriously weakened their lineout presence. Afu’s absence did not have an immediate impact however as the Knights took the game back to the Pirates and they were rewarded with two penalties by Lennard after the visitors tried to thwart their attacks illegally. On one of these occasions it could be argued that the offence, which was close to the Pirates line, was so clinical that a yellow card would have been in order. Back into a double figure lead again with less than 20 minutes to go, the Knights seemed to relax and allowed the Pirated to take control of a game they had looked like losing particularly as they took advantage of Afu’s absence in the lineouts. With 15 minutes left McAfee scored his second try, before being strangely replaced, and with 8 minutes left flanker Iva Motosaga crashed over near the posts. Jones converted both tries and, for the first time, Pirates were in the lead. Realising that they were in danger of letting the game slip away from them, the Knights took the game to the Pirates and, with just 3 minutes to go, they won a penalty which Lennard kicked from 40 metres out to put the game level. From the kick off the Knights supporters’ hearts were in their mouths as they elected to run the kick off back at the Pirates instead of keeping the ball deep in the visitor’s half thus putting the pressure back on them. This time fortunately the Knights defence managed to hold out and the referee’s whistle ended an exciting but not overly skilful game of National Division One rugby

Eight games into the season Doncaster Knights, even with the bulk of their squad new, should be showing a greater consistency of performance that allows them to produce periods of brilliance in attack one minute followed by indiscipline in defence the next. The draw means that the Knights now drop to sixth place in the league, which is a lower position than they have occupied for more than two seasons, and sees them starting to lose touch with the top four sides in particular.

Doncaster Knights: Carter: Davies W; Armitage; Tonga’uiha (Hughes G 66); Van Vuuren; Lennard; Albinson; List (Davies T 69); Boden; Ta’u (Cusack 44); Kenworthy; Smith; Griffiths; Afu (Cochrane 51); Grainger Subs not used: Hallam; Warnock; Toke

Cornish Pirates: Winnan; Tuohy; Devlin (Winn 63); Luke; McAtee (Moore 65); Jones; Fairhurst (Griffiths 63); Paver (Cook 68); Elloway (Dawiduik 68) ; Heard (Franklin 55); Senekal; Gulliver (Burak 48); Morgan; Bedes; Motos

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