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Home > News > London Welsh 9 - Doncaster Knights 20
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Your News London Welsh 9 - Doncaster Knights 20

Doncaster Knights inflicted their first home defeat of the season on London Welsh in a tremendously exciting match where, for the third week running, their aggressive defence won them the game. However, apart from the first 20 minutes, the Knights always held the upper hand and thoroughly deserved their third victory of the season.

For this game, Doncaster’s Director of Rugby Lynn Howells made just two changes from the side that had deservedly beaten Bristol the previous weekend. In the pack Steve Boden came in for Steve Lawrie at hooker and skipper whilst, in the backs, young England sevens flyer Matt Williams made his debut in place of Andy Wright who was struck down by an illness. The plus for the Knights was that skipper and lock Glen Kenworthy, prop Tom Davies and No 8 Chris Planchant all appeared on the bench after recovering from knee injuries.

The Knights went ahead after only 4 minutes when, after a series of rucks just outside the Welsh 22, a delicate grubber kick by fly half Ali Warnock allowed the flying Williams to show his footballing skills to dribble the ball pass the covering defence and score wide out. William’s first try for the club was converted by a maginificent kick from the touchline by Warnock. The home side hit back with a penalty by their fly half Aled Thomas and they then put the Knights under intense pressure from a series of scrums on the visitor’s line. When London Welsh were awarded another penalty they went for goal which Thomas duly kicked when they would probably have been better placed to have gone for another scrum and the possibility of a penalty try. This respite gave the Knights the opportunity to regroup and, with veteran prop Tongan Ngalu Ta’u having sorted out the home side’s illegal scrummaging, Doncaster had no further problems in this department. After 20 minutes London Welsh’s former England winger Paul Sampson had a glorious try scoring opportunity as he knocked on 20 metres out but with the Knights scramble defence rushing across to hunt him down. Shortly afterwards Williams almost squeezed over in the corner for the Knights and then Kettle was denied a try from a scrum 5 metres out. In the 3rd minute of first half injury time, Thomas missed a long range penalty meaning that the Knights went into the interval leading by 10 points to 6.

Warnock increased his side’s lead almost immediately after the restart with a long range penalty before the Knights pack really started to turn the screw on the London Welsh eight. They were awarded a series of 5 metre scrums which the Welsh pack kept collapsing and Premiership referee Greg Garner eventually lost his patience and awarded the Knights a penalty try that Warnock duly converted. Winger Williams almost scored again when he was given the ball 50 metres out and with a clear run to the line only to be brought back for a marginal, but correctly called, forward pass. Thomas again cut his side’s deficit with his third penalty after 18 minutes and the Knights then put themselves under pressure when replacement prop Tom Davies, playing his first game for six weeks due to a knee injury, was yellow carded after being on the field after only 6 minutes. London Welsh sensed a chance to get back into the game but the Knights defence was outstanding and they were unlucky not to extend their lead when winger Douglas Flockhart just knocked on under pressure when cashing a high diagonal kick from Warnock. As the game went into injury time the Knights were comfortably on top and the final whistle was more of a respite for the home side.

Apart from the spell around the 10 minute marker in the first half, the Knights were always on top with the much vaunted London Welsh side struggling to gain any momentum against a tough tackling Doncaster side. With Warnock and full back Steve McColl again pinning their opposition deep in their own half with some very good tactical kicking, the home side were devoid of attacking ideas against a Knights side that, to a man, rarely missed a tackle. As the second half progressed, Howells was allowed the opportunity to give prop Davies and No 8 Chris Planchant a short amount of much needed game time and, thankfully, they showed no ill effects from their layoffs. Davies, Planchant and other returnees Kenworthy, Anthony Carter and Neil Cochrane, plus unused substitutes Matt D’Arcy, Chris Briers, Steve Lawrie and illness victim Andy Wright, will be in a very strong Doncaster team that plays Gael Force, the third Scottish team in the British and Irish Cup, in a friendly at Castle Park on Monday in a game that, at the request of the visitors, kicks off at 5.30pm. Entrance will be free and Castle Park’s famous cow pie and beer will be on sale.

London Welsh: Sampson, Shabbo, Starling (Evans 59), Mackay, Claassens (Watson 41), Thomas, Lewis (Runciman HT), Wiiliams (Ward 54), George (Gotting 54), Holford, Corker, Garvey, Mills (Beach 47), Bonner-Evans, Hills Sub not used: Powell

Doncaster Knights: McColl, Flockhart, Tonga’uiha, Armitage, Williams, Warnock, Hallam, Corsar (Davies 54), Boden, Ta’u (Cusack HT), Griffiths, Townson, Kettle, Boyde (Planchant 70), Grainger Subs not used: Briers, D’Arcy, Lawrie, Kenworthy

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