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Home > News > Doncaster get season off the mark finally
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Your News Doncaster get season off the mark finally

A revitalised Doncaster Knights have hopefully put their season back “on the road” with a much improved performance at Plymouth Albion which gave them their first win of the season. The job was started by their pack which put the home eight on their back foot from the outset giving their much maligned back division the opportunity to improve more and more the longer the game went on and their confidence returned.

For their trip to the South West, Knights Director of Rugby again made changes to the side that started against Coventry last Saturday, some of them forced on him by further injuries. In the pack prop Ngalu Ta’u, back at his old stamping ground, and Steve Lawrie replaced Michael Cusack and Steve Boden at prop and hooker respectively with the latter two reverting to the bench. In the backs, Chris Hallam was recalled at scrum half in place of Matt D’Arcy, Andy Wright returned after injury on the wing in place of the suspended Chris Briers and assistant coach Brett Davey started at full back as Ali Warnock was forced to move back to fly half for the injured James Brooks. Forward Dan Smith and back Steve McColl had to appear on the bench in spite of carrying back and leg injuries respectively.

The Doncaster pack, with their front row of big Ngalu Ta’u, skipper Steve Lawrie and Stuart Corsar, put Plymouth under the cosh from the start at the scrums whilst locks Glen Townson and Bryn Griffiths and flanker Adam Kettle caused havoc at the lineouts. An early Ali Warnock penalty was quickly cancelled out by a response from Kieran Hallett for Plymouth but a couple of handling errors by the Knights backs did not allow their side to capitalise on the good early work of the pack. However with Brett Davey working hard to help settle his fellow backs, their confidence grew and they started to function much more smoothly as a unit. Plymouth lost centre Tuipulotu to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle after 29 minutes and Warnock put his side back in the lead from the resultant penalty. Although a man short, the Plymouth pack had their best spell of the game as they tried to slow the tempo down by a series of driving mauls and they gained a penalty which Hallett kicked to bring the scores back level at 6 all at the interval.

Doncaster’s prop Ta’u, his demolition job on the Plymouth pack now done, left the field at half-time leaving Michael Cusack to continue where the Tongan had left off. After 47 minutes Davey also left the field, his calming job on the Knights backs now done, and he was replaced by Steve McColl. The Knights pack were now totally dominant and they piled the pressure on in all phases of the game. After 55 minutes they were awarded a scrum 5 metres from the Plymouth line and they went for the pushover. After having to reset the Plymouth scrum six times and awarded one penalty against them, the referee lost patience with the home side and he had no hesitation in awarding the Knights a penalty try that Warnock converted to take the Knights into a 7 point lead. Back came the Knights and they pinned Plymouth into a corner and, after a series of drives, Doncaster No 8 Andy Boyde dived over for a try that the referee awarded after consulting his touch judge. Plymouth tried to play themselves back into the game but the Knights defence was excellent and there was no way through for them. With Warnock now pulling the strings and pinning Plymouth into their own 22, the same player made the game safe with a well struck drop goal after 78 minutes for the final score of the game.

After the match a delighted and relieved Lynn Howells praised the work of his side, the leadership of Steve Lawrie and the calming influence of his fellow coach Brett Davey whilst he was on the field. Howells also praised Premiership referee Roy Maybank who he said refereed the breakdown fairly for both sides which, in turn, allowed the Knights to play with a lot quicker and cleaner ball that they had been denied in earlier games. Howells however tempered expectations by saying that the win had to be seen only as the beginning and that a lot more hard work was required to get his side out of the bottom four and into the top eight promotion play off places.

Plymouth Albion: Kingdom, Mercer, Fisilau, Tuipulotu (Davies 50), Gibson, Hallett, Cushion, Rice, Clark, Porte (Hopkins 72), Hotson, Skelding (Lewis 66), Stephen (Watts-Jones 66), Marriott, Clayton (Sprangle 66) Subs not used: Lee, Morton

Doncaster Knights: Davey (McColl 47), Wright, Armitage, Tonga’uiha, Flockhart, Warnock, Hallam (D’Arcy 69), Ta’u (Cussack HT), Lawrie (Boden 73), Corsar (Toke 75), Townson, Griffiths (Smith 79), Kettle, Boyde, Grainger Sub not used: Williams

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