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Home > News > Doncaster Knights 7 - Nottingham 23
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Your News Doncaster Knights 7 - Nottingham 23

Bizarre though it may sound given the final score, as the game went into first half injury time the Knights looked if they could be on track for their first win of the season. At that point they were only losing by 3 points to 0 but had played into the sun and a very strong diagonal wind as well as having to put up with the handicap of playing 20 minutes with 14 men as a result of having had two men yellow carded. And then, in the 43rd minute of the half, the indiscipline that has cost them dear this season struck again with a second yellow card, which equates to a red, to flanker Adam Kettle which confined them to 14 men for the remaining 40 minutes and with his departure went any realistic chance Doncaster had of winning the game.

For their game against local rivals Nottingham, Doncaster Knights Director of Rugby Lynn Howells, with 11 out of his 32 man squad injured, recalled hooker Steve Boden as captain, gave a first start for the season to Michael Cusack, now thankfully recovered from injury, at prop, brought in Andy Boyde at No 8, Matt D’Arcy at scrum half and Hudson Tonga’uiha and Bevan Armitage at centre, moved Chris Briers onto the wing and gave another opportunity to Roger Davies at full back. On the bench 19 year old prop Lewis Theide was given his first Championship chance. Also on the bench was the Knights Assistant Coach Brett Davey who was emergency registered during the week.

Playing into the strong wind and sun for the first half, the Knights knew that they would have to front up against a confident Nottingham side and that is exactly what they did. When they had the chance they attacked and when they had to defend with did so with great character and spirit, virtues that had been missing from most of their previous performances this season. Nottingham had a simple tactical plan and that was to use the wind to pin the Knights in their own half and to attack through driving mauls from lineouts. The Knights did not help their cause by again conceding numerous penalties, five in the first 10 minutes, but ultimately the referee lost his patience and yellow carded Kettle for going in from the side. From this offence Nottingham’s Greg Donks put his side into the lead. Hardly had Kettle returned than hooker Boden was then confined to the sin bin, allegedly for trying to collapse a maul near his line. After 30 minutes flanker Simon Grainger was almost over for a try for the Knights after gathering a loose ball from a 5 metre line out but unfortunately the referee ruled no try. With 43 minutes of the half gone, and the Knights looking forward to using the elements in the second half, a fracas broke out just inside the Knights half between Kettle and Nottingham’s lock Nick Rouse, and although the latter appeared to throw two punches to Kettle’s one, it was the Doncaster man who was picked out by the Touch Judge and, following his intervention, the referee gave the Knight’s player his second yellow card which meant he was off for the rest of the game.

The Knights started the second half spiritedly and they need to put in an almost perfect performance to win but, unfortunately, they kept giving away good positions by being penalised. After 50 minutes Tonks kicked his second penalty but the Knights did not give in and fought back. With 60 minutes gone their defence eventually cracked at an attacking scrum where their No 9 Tim Usasz took advantage of his side’s numerical advantage. Worst was to follow 3 minutes later when Nottingham broke though a poor tackle in the middle of the field and, after a couple of swift passes, centre Ben Johnston was put in for a clear run to the line for a try that Tonks converted. Then, after 67 minutes, Nottingham’s opens side flanker dived over for his side’s third try. With Nottingham now desperately seeking their bonus point 4th try, it was the Knights who hit back and, after some good attacking support play, replacement scrum half dived over for a try that was converted by fly half Ali Warnock. Try as they could Nottingham could not cross the Doncaster line and their 7 man scrum, with Theide having a tremendous game after coming on for Cusack, was outstanding pushing their visitors backwards on several occasions. As the game went into injury time the Knights had winger Chris Briers totally unjustedly red carded for an alleged punch on a Nottingham forward who took a dive that would not have been out of place at Meadow Lane. This incident was “seen” by the same touch judge who got Boden yellow carded and, whilst correctly identifying Kettle for punching, totally failed to report the Nottingham player who had been hitting Kettle.

After the game, Doncaster can only look back on their own indiscipline which has now probably cost them three matches. Although injuries have taken a heavy toll on the Knights, the players who have been brought in have marred their performances by falling foul of the match officials. This coming weekend the Knights are at home to Coventry and they know that they must dramatically cut their offences, whilst still playing with the intensity that they did for good periods of the game yesterday, if they are to get their season back on track. They must also hope that their injury jinx, which in yesterday’s game struck flanker Armitage and centre Armitage, will go away and haunt somebody else!

Doncaster Knights: Davies, Briers, Tonga’uiha, Armitage, Flockhart, Warnock, D’Arcy (Hallam 51), Toke (Corsar 68), Boden (Lawrie 26 – 36, 75), Cusack (Thiede 55), Townson, Griffiths, Kettle, Boyde, Grainger (Smith 70)

Subs not used: Wright, Davey

Nottingham: Jackson (Savage 68), Cobden, Tonks (Hayter 78), Johnston, Streather, Taylor, Usasz (Harrison 64), Parr (Buxton 64), Youngs (Rostron 69), Du Plessis, Green (Nimmo 47), Rouse, Hammond, Eggleshaw (Hemmingway 41), Sherriff

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