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Home > News > Bedford 12 - Doncaster 23
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Your News Bedford 12 - Doncaster 23

An awesome defensive performance, full of character, gave Doncaster Knights their fifth win in two weeks of intense pressure and virtually guarantees them a position in this season’s Championship promotion play offs. To a man, the team tackled their hearts out to hold on to an early lead that they set up when playing with the advantage of the infamous Bedford slope, yet still had time to show some attacking verve that could have secured them a third try up the hill.

Knights Director of Rugby Lynn Howells again rotated his battle hardened squad making nine changes from the side he had put out against Birmingham & Solihull three days earlier. The bulk of the changes came in the pack with a new front row in Michael Cusack, Steve Boden and Tom Davies, Bryn Griffiths in at lock and Andy Boyde and Neil Cochrane in the back row, the latter as skipper. In the backs Ali Warnock came in at fly half, Bevon Armitage at centre and Anthony “Shaggy” Carter at full back.

Doncaster started off with the advantage of the slope and put Bedford on the defensive from the outset but they lost possession on two occasions inside the Bedford 22. With 9 minutes gone, wing Andy Wright caught a high ball under pressure just inside the Bedford half and near touch and made a few yards before the pack took over. The ball was moved right to centre Hudson Tonga’uiha whose passed to lock Griffiths whose inside pass put Wright on to a clear run to the line for the games opening try that Warnock converted. Doncaster continued to attack but could not make any impression on the home defence although scrum half Nicky Griffiths was held up inches short when taking a quick penalty. Warnock extended the Knights lead with a penalty after 19 minutes and then it was Bedford’s turn to throw down the gauntlet to the visitors and their superb defence had to withstand 5 minutes of intense pressure. The Knights came back with attacks of their own but it was again left to Warnock to keep the scoreboard ticking over with a penalty from 45 metres out giving Doncaster a half-time lead of 13 points to 0.

Doncaster started the second half brightly up the hill but, when they lost an attacking lineout on the Bedford 22, the Blues attacked and their full back Canadian international James Pritchard missed two penalties in the space of 4 minutes, the second one from only 20 metres out. By now the Knights great defence was fully stretched and, although they repelled wave after wave of Bedford attacks, they were eventually outflanked on the right wing after their pack had withstood tremendous pressure and the home side’s right wing Oli Goss just managed to dive over in the corner. The Knights hit straight back and their defensive pressure on the Blue’s 22 caused Bedford to concede a penalty that Warnock again kicked to extend Doncaster’s lead to 11 points after 59 minutes. By now Bedford knew they had to take some risks to try to breach the punishing Knights defence and, when they tried to move the ball under pressure to the left just inside their own half, the pass was intercepted by Doncaster winger Dougie Flockhart who outpaced the chasing Blues defence to score 10 metres to the right of the posts for a try that Warnock again converted.. Behind by 16 points but with only 17 minutes to go, Bedford threw everything into the attack and, with advantage of the significant slope, they pinned the Knights on their own goal line. Tackle after tackle went in from the Knights defenders and, after surviving almost 10 minutes of constant pressure, Warnock intercepted a pass on his own goal line and a breakout took play to the Bedford 22. As the game went into injury time, Bedford again just managed to outflank the Doncaster defence and replacement back Duncan Taylor crossed hal way out to the the intensity of the game that both sides had to call on all of their replacements as the pressure on both sides cranked up in the final minutes

After the game it was a proud and high spirited but tired Knights squad that returned to Doncaster to prepare for Wednesday’s visit to league leaders Bristol followed by three British and Irish Cup games in eight days before their punishing schedule of 9 games in 28 days, caused by having to rearrange postponed away fixtures, is over. Such was the performance of the Knights that their supporters, who award a prize to their “Man of the Match” after every game, gave the prize to the team as a whole and which they no doubt enjoyed on the coach back.

Bedford Blues : Pritchar`d (Taylor 63), Fielden, Dorrian, Vass, Dodge, Davies, Walshe (Roberts 66), Walsh (Cecere 53), Richmond (Locke 77), Boulton (Seal 53), Tupai, Rae (Harlock 49), Lewitt, Goodman, Harding (Gillanders 65)

Doncaster Knights: Carter, Wright (McColl 56), Armitage, Tonga’uiha, Flockhart, Warnock, Griffiths N, Davies (Corsar 77), Boden (Lawrie 56), Cusack (Thiede 77), Griffiths B (Kenworthy 77), Townson, Kettle (Grainger 68), Boyde, Cochrane (Hallam 80)

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