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Home > News > Doncaster 12 - Bedford Blues 26
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Your News Doncaster 12 - Bedford Blues 26

Doncaster Knights made a disappointing start to their inaugural Championship match at home to Bedford Blues losing by 26 points to 12 with a performance that their Director of Rugby Lynn Howells described as unacceptable from a group of professional rugby players, particularly taking into account the amount of effort that they themselves had previously put into their pre-season training.

For the new season the Knights gave debuts to Roger Davies (ex Cardiff) at full back, Doug Flockhart (ex Esher) on the wing, Chris Briers (ex Rotherham Titans) at centre, James Brooks (ex Leeds) at flyhalf and Andy Boyde (also ex Leeds) at No 8, otherwise it was business as usual for the Doncaster squad.

The match started disastrously for the Blues with their experienced scrum half Nick Walshe being carried from the field in the opening minute with a knee injury following a heavy tackle. After 6 minutes Bedford went ahead with a penalty by fly half Miles Dorrian but this was soon offset by a penalty for the Knights by Brooks. The bulk of the first half was played out in Doncaster territory as the Knights failed to capitalise on their set piece possession to make inroads into their visitor’s defence. The nearest the Knights got to scoring was after a good run by winger Flockhart and a close in drive by centre Hudson Tonga’uiha. However both sides had further try scoring chances which would probably have been successful but for early season rustiness but it took another Bedford penalty, this time by their Canadian international full back James Pritchard, after 32 minutes to get the score board moving again. As half time approached Bedford gained a lineout out on the Knights 22 and, after driving forward, the ball was moved to the left when a speculative grubber kick by the Blues bounced kindly for them allowing flanker Gregor Gillander to drive over from close range.

Turning around 11 points to 3 down, Doncaster needed to score first but their opponents had other ideas. After 9 minutes, following a Blues line out on halfway, an inside pass to replacement scrum half Will Chudley allowed him to rip open the Knights defence before linking up with supporting No 8 Paul Tupai whose final pass gave flanker Sacha Harding a clear run to the line for a try. This reverse brought reinforcements off the bench in the form of new signing Glen Townson (ex Sedgley Park) at lock for Dan Smith and Bryn Griffiths in the back row for Boyde. These moves at last stirred Doncaster into action with Townson particularly prominent and three penalties by Brooks brought them well back into the game. However, shortly afterwards, a stupid penalty against a Knights defender for deliberately throwing the ball into touch was gratefully kicked by Pritchard to give his side a 7 points margin. Even then the Knights were still in the game but, with 10 minutes left, the killer blow was landed by Chudley who left the Doncaster defence for dead breaking from a scrum centre field before an inside pass to Pritchard gave the full back a clear run to the line through an absent Knights defence that he converted himself for the final score of the game. As injury time approached the Knights had one final chance as, from a line out 35 metres out, replacement hooker new signing Steve Lawrie (ex Edinburgh) burst clear on a run to the line that saw him hauled down just a few feet short. Unfortunately the Knights pack could not give him the support he needed and the referee’s whistle concluded a game in which neither side gave a performance they would have been happy with but at least the visitors returned south with 4 points in the bag.

After the game, a fuming Howells said that, although his side held their own in the set pieces, their error rate had been far too high, their high turnover rate denied them any continuity and they failed to threaten when the opportunity arose. It is clearly going to be a hard week for the Knights squad as they prepare for this Saturday’s difficult match away against pre-season joint favourites Exeter at Sandy Park. Howells will clearly be looking for a significantly improved performance from his squad and will no doubt remind them that they drew 9 all at Exeter in the last match of last season in a game that they so easily could have won.

Doncaster Knights: Davies, Wright, Briers, Tonga’uiha, Flockhart, Brooks, D’Arcy, Davies, Boden (Lawrie 71), Ta’u (Toke 40), Smith (Townson 53), Kenworthy, Kettle, Boyde (Griffiths 53), Grainger - Replacements not used: Armitage, Hallam and Warnock

Bedford Blues: Pritchard, Dodge, Burke, Vass (Roberts 75), Davey, Dorrian, Walshe (Chudley 1), Walsh, Richmond (Lock 75), Boulton (Brown 71), Harlock (Spencer 75), Rae, Gillanders, Tupai (Goodman 66), Harding (Lewitt 66)

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