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Home > News > Doncaster Knights 17 - Exeter Chiefs 20
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Your News Doncaster Knights 17 - Exeter Chiefs 20

A truly nail biting finish, which saw three scores in 8 pulsating minutes of injury time, ended with Doncaster Knights narrowly losing their EDF National Trophy Quarter Final to Exeter Chiefs. It was an excellent, very clean game, played at pace throughout, which augers well for next season’s Championship between two sides of such calibre.

For the game Doncaster’s Director of Rugby Lynn Howells reverted mostly to his “tried and tested” with Bevon Armitage and Hudson Tonga’uiha resuming their centre partnership and Jamie Lennard and Chris Hallam being re-united at half back. In the pack Doncaster were hit on Saturday morning with the withdrawal of influential skipper and lock Glen Kenworthy with a stomach bug and talisman Tongan prop Ngalu Ta’u starting in spite of showing symptoms of the same illness immediately before the game.

From the outset Exeter attacked and they would have scored through left wing Paul Mackenzie in the opening exchanges but for a superb tackle by Knights lock Dan Smith. Doncaster managed to weather the storm and had their own opportunity to score after 10 minutes when Tonga’uiha ran strongly into the Exeter half before the ball was quickly recycled to the left where an overlap opportunity was missed. After 20 minutes Exeter’s flyhalf Danny Gray was sinbinned for a professional foul and Lennard kicked the games opening points with a well struck penaly for the Knights from 35 metres. The Knights could not capitalise on their one man advantage and they then lost winger Andy Wright to the sinbin another professional foul. Exeter’s experience told at this point as they stretched the 14 man Knights defence and scored two tries in through the area normally defended by Wright with tries by flanker Tom Johnson after 27 minutes and winger Tom Bedford after 35 minutes, the latter whilst Tonga’uiha was also out of the defence being treated on-field for an injury. Gray’s conversions of both tries took his side into an 11 point lead which Lennard reduced with his second penalty just before half-time.

Doncaster started the second half well and they scored after only 4 minutes when Wright won the race for a loose ball as it ran over the Exeter try line. This lifted the Knights and they took the game to the Chiefs and it was no surprise when they equalised the scores after 60 minutes with another Lennard penalty. Both sides threw everything into the last quarter with both coaches making liberal use of their bench. As the game went into injury time, Exeter won a ruck in front of the Knights posts and the reliable Gareth Steenson, now on for Gray, dropped a goal to put his side back in front. From the restart Exeter were penalised 24 metres out from their own posts and again Lennard stepped up and levelled the scores. Exeter’s restart had the Knights defence in trouble and, with extra time looming, it was Doncaster’s turn to incur the wrath of referee Sean Davey. Steenson made no mistake with the simple penalty and it is Exeter who will go into Monday’s semi-final draw along with Leeds, Nottingham and Moseley.

After the game Howells praised his side for their efforts but rued their lack of experience at times when, firstly, they failed to capitalise on their one man advantage for 10 minutes in the first half and, secondly, they could not turn the territorial advantage they enjoyed for much of the second half into points

Doncaster Knights: Carter; Davies W; Tonga’uiha; Armitage; Wright; Lennard; Hallam (D’Arcy 61); List (Toke 70); Boden; Ta’u (Davies T 40); Griffiths (Planchant 58); Smith; Afu; Kettle; Grainger Subs not used: Warnock; McColl; Doughty

Exeter Chiefs: Marsden; Bedford; Rennie; Fatilofa (Cornwall 59); McKenzie; Gray (Steenson 75); Stuart-Smith (Lewsey 63); Sturgess; Blythe (Nelson 75); Andress (Budgen 63); Tuohy (Bentley 50); Hayes; Johnson; Miller; Baxter Sub not used: Slade

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