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Home > News > Rotherham 11 - Doncaster Knights 7
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Your News Rotherham 11 - Doncaster Knights 7

A gritty and determined performance by Rotherham Titans in deteriorating weather conditions deservedly gave them the South Yorkshire bragging rights for the next few months over an underperforming Doncaster Knights team that failed, for large tranches of the game, to gain any meaningful possession from which to secure a victory.

For the first of three local derbies of the season, Doncaster Knights Director of Rugby Lynn Howells made several changes from his side that had beaten Birmingham & Solihull the previous weekend. In the front row he again switched his hookers and props with Steve Boden and Stuart Corsar coming off the bench to swop places with Steve Lawrie and Tom Davies respectively whilst skipper Glen Kenworthy, fit again after his knee injury, replaced Glen Townson at lock. In the backs the sole change saw Bevon Armitage come in at centre in place of Chris Briars who moved to the bench.

With former Rotherham players Corsar, Kenworthy and Chris Hallam in the Knights side a hard battle was always to be expected and that is what spectators got. The home side had the marginal advantage of the strong diagonal wind and they put the Knights under pressure with a charged down kick which ultimately resulted in a penalty to the Titans which Jonny West duly kicked from 40 metres out. This early score really lifted the Titans pack and they took the game to the Knights, so much so that they managed to totally disrupt the normally reliable Doncaster lineout causing them to lose four of their first six lineouts on their own throw-in. On the odd occasion that the Knights did manage to break into the Titans half, the Knights either lost possession by rushing things or they fell foul of the referee. After 25 minutes West kicked his second penalty to extend his side’s lead and then Rotherham scored a vital try with six minutes to go to halftime. The Titans gained a scrum about ten metres from the Knights line and, after wheeling the visitor’s pack, they picked up and drove towards the line allowing lock Gregor Haytor to crash over for the game’s opening try and the final score of the half.

As the light worsened and the wind eased, the drizzle became very heavy and handling became a bit of a lottery. The halftime break had some impact on the Knights and they started to play the game more in the Titan’s half. Unfortunately their kicking game lacked the precision of previous weeks and they allowed the Titan’s backs the chance to drive them back with kicks of their own. Still unable to guarantee their own possession from lineouts, the Knights created their own pressure on themselves to add to that being applied by the home pack who never gave up against their bigger visitors. After 65 minutes the Knights were awarded a penalty try which fly half Ali Warnock converted after the Titans persistently infringed as the visitors went for a pushover try from 5 metres out. During this period of pressure Titans replacement prop Antony O’Donnell was yellow carded but the Knights could not capitalise on their numerical advantage as they failed to pin Rotherham deep into their own half after kicking two long positional kicks out on the full. Hardly had O’Donnell returned to the fray when Titans replacement centre Petaia Gidlow was yellow carded for foul play and again the Knights had a numerical advantage. Unfortunately for them they turned over the ball when on the attack as the game went into injury time and the Titans pack were not to be denied as they retained possession and played the clock down to the final whistle.

After the game a disappointed (and disappointing) Doncaster team were left to reflect on their inability to retain their own lineout ball, their failure to build up pressure by putting together numerous phases of play (vital given the weather conditions) and their overall kicking game against a Titans team that knew and played its own pitch very well indeed. This loss drops the Knights back into the relegation play off zone and is particularly disappointing given their much improved performances of the previous four weeks. They will have much to dwell on as they prepare for this Sunday’s home opening game against Scottish champions Ayr in the inaugural British & Irish league cup

Rotherham Titans: Whitehead, Feeley, Farmer, Buckley, Swatkins (Gidlow 72), West, Chivers, Quigley (O,Donnell 55), Conroy, Prescott (Burrows 74), Challinor, Hayter, Swindall (Burrows 38, Kilbane 64)), Dickinson, Barnes Subs not used: Rhodes, Henderson and Jenkins

Doncaster Knights: McColl, Flockhart, Tonga’uiha, Armitage (Briars 67), Williams, Warnock, Hallam, Corsar (Davies 55), Boden, Ta’u (Cusack HT), Kenworthy (Townson 5 – 10, 52), Griffiths, Kettle (Cochrane 47), Planchant, Grainger Subs not used: D’Arcy, Lawrie

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