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Home > News > Doncaster Knights 29 - Exeter Chiefs 34
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Your News Doncaster Knights 29 - Exeter Chiefs 34

Apart from a horrible ten minutes midway through the first half when, through a mixture of turned over possession, doubtful defence and superb play by the Exeter backs, the Knights conceded four tries this was a cracking game of rugby union, the sort of match that supporters of next season’s new Championship Structure believe will come common place in due course. Ten tries were scored in all, five by each side, and it was the superior goal kicking on the day by Exeter’s Gareth Steenson that was the difference between the two sides.

For their match against 2nd placed Exeter Chiefs. Doncaster Knights Director of Rugby Lynn Howells made two changes from the side that had made heavy weather of beating Esher away the previous weekend. Both of the changes were at prop where Richard List and Tongan international Ngalu Ta’u came in for Tom Davies and Michael Cusack respectively.

The game started at great pace and the Chiefs went ahead after 4 minutes when No 8 Richard Baxter drove over from a lineout close to the Knights line. Within minutes the Knights came back when No 8 Chris Planchant scored a similar try from a lineout after the first drive had been halted. A Steenson penalty after 12 minutes put the Chiefs back in front and for the next 10 minutes it was anyone’s game as both sides battled for possession. Then came that horrible 10 minutes. Firstly Chiefs prop Chris Budgen caught the Knights defence napping with a try from a quickly taken penalty 5 metres out; then Knights failed to control the ball whilst on the attack allowing a Chiefs player from an offside position to snaffle the ball before it was moved quickly to the left where flying winger Matt Jess beat the home cover on a 50 metre dash down the touchline; then a poor clearance kick by the Knights allowed Chief’s French winger Nic Sesterat to run through some poor home defence to score between the posts; and, finally, Exeter attacked from the kick-off and centre Paul McKenzie evaded one attempted tackle and beat another defender with a dummy as he made a 40 metre run down the left touchline before cutting in to score near the posts. Steenson converted 3 of these 4 tries. Doncaster managed to stop the rot at this point as they re-grouped and they were helped when Chief’s lock Tommy Hayes was sinbinned after deliberately killing the ball whilst the Knights were in a good attacking position. The Knights opted for a scrum close in instead of kicking for goal and, after a number of drives were halted just short, they were rewarded when left wing Donavan Van Vuuren managed to squeeze over halfway out for a try that full back Jamie Lennard converted.

Turning around 34 points to 12 in arrear, the Knights attacked from the restart and they scored after 5 minutes when wing Wez Davies scored as he gathered a high cross kick from home fly half Ali Warnock that evaded the Chief’s cover. By now the Knights were far more into the game and competing well and, cheered on by the noisy home support, they took the game more and more to the Chiefs. As the game entered its final quarter Chief’s prop Jon Andress was sent off after attempting to knee a Doncaster player following a fracas at a scrum and the Knights sensed they had the opportunity of causing an upset. With the Chiefs using their powerful bench to try to stop the Knights, the home side threw everything into attack and they reduced the deficit when Davies used his strength to score his second try with just 12 minutes left. Lennard’s successful conversion brought the deficit down to 10 points and it really was game on. Try as they may Knights could not breakdown the resolute Chief’s defence and they had to wait until the 79th minute for their next score and it came from Davies again as he dived over for his hat trick try wide out. Lennard’s conversion attempt missed but Knights were still left with 4 minutes injury time to grab the winner. Doncaster did everything they could to secure a victory in these last few minutes but it was the superb Chief’s defence that managed to hold on and keep their league hopes alive.

Looking back Doncaster will rue those fatal 10 minutes when lack of concentration gave Exeter Chiefs the opportunity to show exactly why they are joint-favourites for promotion at the end of the season. The Knights will take positives out of the game as they never gave up but they will also realise that they cannot win games when they turn over as much possession as they did to a side with the pace of Exeter.

Doncaster Knights: Lennard; Davies W; Tonga’uiha; Armitage; Van Vuuren; Warnock; Albinson; List (Davies T 65); Jenkins (Boden 44); Ta’u (Cusack 44); Kenworthy; Griffiths (Smith 68); Afu; Planchant; Cochrane Subs not used: Goss; Wright and McColl

Exeter Chiefs: Marsden; Sestaret; McKenzie (Ward 54); Bedford; Jess; Steenson (Gray 64); Stuart-Smith (Lewsey 64); Budgen; Blythe (Clark 65); Andress (Sturgess 59); Hayes (Tuohy 78); Stevenson; Johnson; Baxter; Pugh Sub not used: Slade

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