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A tremendous performance by the Knights pack put their visitors on the back foot from the outset and the final score in Doncasters favour should have been far greater than it was. In the end it was mistakes by the Knights that kept Nottingham in the game as the spirit gradually drained out of their guests due to the pressure they were under.

For this vital eight point game, Doncasters Director of Rugby Lynn Howells made a number of changes from the Knights team that had beaten Plymouth in the cup the previous weekend. In the backs Howells opted for experience with Donavan Van Vuuren coming in on the wing in place of Andy Wright and Tongan international Hudson Tongauiha replacing Steve McColl at centre. In the pack, Richard List got the nod over Tom Davies at prop, Chris Planchant returned at No 8 in place of Adam Kettle and the previously injured Neil Cochrane came in for the now injured Simon Grainger at flanker.

The Knights made an explosive start and when ahead in the opening two minutes. From the first scrum of the game the Doncaster scrum won good ball and, after the ball was moved first left and then right by attacks, scrum half Chris Hallam put right wing Wez Davies into a gap 20 metres out which he raced through to score wide out. Although fly half Jamie Lennards conversion missed, the try put the Knights on the front foot and they took the game to Nottingham. After 20 minutes, Nottingham lost a good attacking position on the Knights 22 when play was called back to the halfway line by the assistant referee which resulted in the visitors prop Robbie Harris being sin binned for stamping. During Harriss 10 minute absence the Knights pack put the Nottingham eight under intense pressure at the scrums and, from one such occasion, they won a penalty that Lennard kicked. With 35 minutes gone, and totally against the run of play, Nottingham scored. The referee played a knock on advantage to the Knights on their own 22 but, after several phases of play, the attack broke down on the Nottingham 22 and the lose ball was gathered by centre Greg Tonks who raced away. As he was hunted down by the chasing Van Vuuren on the Knights 22, his poor inside pass was fly hacked on passed the covering Wez Davies and bounced to evade prop List and into the hands of Alex Dodge who scored between the posts. Tonkss conversion from between the posts brought the score back to 8 points to 7 to the Knights which, at that point, was nowhere near a reflection of the game. The Knights came back and piled the pressure on Nottingham. Just as half time was reached, and it looked as if the Knights were not going to get the score their tremendous scrummaging deserved, the ball was recycled back in field where Lennard dropped a goal from 22 metres out.

From the restart it was Nottinghams turn to gifted the Knights a try. From Nottinghams first attacked on the half way line, a poor grubber kick was hacked forward by Tongauiha into the visitors half and the Tongan gathered the bounce to race outpace the cover from 40 metres out. Lennards conversion extended the Knights lead to 11 points. The Knights were now rampant and they attacked Nottingham down both flanks. When play broke down they were awarded a series of three scrums 8 metres from the Nottingham line from the last of which they were penalised and the pressure was lifted. During the next five minutes Howells replaced both his props and Cusack and Tom Davies continued the demolition work on the Nottingham scrum started by List and Tongan international Ngalu Tau. However shortly afterwards it was Nottinghams turn to score as a grubber kick evaded the Doncaster defence just inside their 22 and fly half won the race to gather the bounce and score a try that Tonks converted. With the score difference now down to 4 points the Knights took the game back at Nottingham as their pack and backs alike took the game back into the visitors half. After an attack down the left flank was stopped, the Knights destroyed a Nottingham scrum 15 metres out and a sharp pass by Hallam as the ball came out gave Lennard the chance to spot a gap in the hesitant defence to race over for a try which he converted himself. Although this was the last of the scoring, the Knights finished the game well on top although Nottingham did their best to keep in the game with a score that would have given them a bonus point which they definitely did not deserve. Indeed as the final whistle went it was the Knights who were ruing not scoring a 4th bonus point try that all their pressure deserved.

After the match when asked to comment, Howells said dont let anyone ever tell you that the scrum is not an important part of the modern game. After seeing the way the Knights kept the vaunted Nottingham pack on the back foot throughout the game as a result of their total scrummaging dominance, no one at Castle Park would want to argue with him. It was certainly a satisfactory ending to a match that marked the first league game with the Knights new 1650 seater stand fully open and, in spite of competition from both the Rovers and the Races, a crowd of almost 2,000 enjoyed a great experience.

Doncaster Knights: Carter; Davies W; Armitage (McColl 71); Tongauiha; Van Vuuren; Lennard; Hallam; List (Davies T 53); Boden; Tau (Cusack 48); Kenworthy; Griffiths; Afu (Kettle 76); Planchant; Cochrane Subs not used: Smith; Robinson; Warnock

Nottingham: Savage; Cobden; Erinle; Tonks; Dodge (Jackson 60); Taylor; Pilgrim (Davies 64); Parr; Duffey (Youngs 71); Harris (Fowkes 78); Morley (Elphinston 65); Rouse; Hammond; Montagu; Sherriff Subs not used: McDonald; Nirmalendraan

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