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Home > News > Doncaster 41 - Birmingham and Solihull 8
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Your News Doncaster 41 - Birmingham and Solihull 8

With pressure of having to qualify for the Championship play-offs now 99.99% banished, the Knights maintained their 100% record in the British & Irish Cup with a six try, bonus point win over struggling Birmingham & Solihull which leaves them needing only 5 points from the two remaining matches – away at Pontypridd on Wednesday and away at Rotherham on Saturday – to reach the semi-final of the trophy in its inaugural season.

For his side’s 7th game in 21 days, Knights Director of Rugby Lynn Howells again rang the changes to his squad making twelve changes from the team that had suffered its first defeat during this pressure period away against Championship leaders Bristol last Wednesday. The only players to retain their starting places were centre Chris Briers, lock Glen Townson and No 8 Chris Bundy. Amongst those brought in was local youngster Matt Lowcock at flanker.

Although Birmingham went ahead with a penalty from winger Simon Hunt in the first minute, it was one way traffic for most of the half as the Knights piled on the pressure. They went ahead after only 4 minutes when, following a couple of close in thrusts, the ball was moved smartly to the right through several pairs of hands to put winger Andy Wright over in the corner for a try that was converted from the touchline by fly half Ali Warnock. With the Birmingham defence hanging on it was left to Warnock to increase the Knights lead with a penalty after 25 minutes before two tries in the final five minutes of the half put pay to any chance of the visitors causing an upset. The first of these two tries was scored when No 8 Bundy picked up from a 5 metre scrum and broke blind before feeding scrum half Matthew D’Arcy who raced over unopposed wide out. Then, with almost the final play of the half, the Knights won a scrum midfield and Bundy fed flanker Adam Kettle who came left for a couple of yards before linking with D’Arcy who made a half break before putting flying winger Matt Williams, playing his first game for three months due to a shoulder injury, on a 30 metre run up the left touchline to score in the corner. With Warnock converting D’Arcy’s try the Knights went into the interval leading by 22 points to 7. Unfortunately for Birmingham, their influential player-coach, and former Knight’s player, Russell Earnshaw suffered what appeared to be a serious shoulder injury when driven back by three Doncaster players in a tackle.

Throughout the second half the visitor’s pack struggled at scrum time and the referee must have been close to awarding penalty tries on at least two occasions. As it was Birmingham held out until the 56th minute when, following a series of lineouts and 5 metre scrums on their line and down to 14 men following the sin binning of replacement prop Matt Long, D’Arcy crossed almost unopposed for his second try from a scrum as the visitors was in disarray. At this point D’Arcy was substituted an his replacement Nicky Griffiths was the next to score when, after a couple of drives following a quick tap penalty, he spotted half a gap in the visitor’s defence and used his strength to plough through a couple of players for a try. Warnock converted both tries. The Knights were now rampant against a tiring Birmingham side and winger Andy Wright was next to score. Doncaster won a lineout just inside the visitor’s half in front of the stand, the ball was moved swiftly to the left wing where Williams made ground before being tackled, from the resultant ruck the ball was moved quickly to the right with two long passes by forwards Kettle and hooker Steve Boden to give the powerful Wright the opportunity from 20 metres out to crash through two attempted tackles to score in the corner. With Doncaster now giving opportunities to two other long tem injury absentees Tom Doughty and Toma Toke at hooker and prop respectively, the Knights took every opportunity to move the ball but, it was to Birmingham’s credit that they never gave up and, with all their replacements now on the field, they were rewarded with the final try of the game through their full back Tom Foden.

After the game, Howells said that he was delighted for Matt Williams, Toma Toke and Tom Doughty who all appeared to have come through their comeback games with no side effects which was a credit to their hard work and dedication and the support given to them by the Knights conditioning and medical staff. He said he was pleased that his side had overcome Wednesday’s set back at Bristol and, with almost a full squad to select from, he was looking forward to the remaining B&I Cup games and the Knights making a big impression in the Championship play-offs.

Doncaster Knights: Carter, Wright (McColl 70), Armitage, Briers, Williams, Warnock, D’Arcy (N Griffiths57), Davies (Corsar 55), Boden (Doughty 74), Cusack (Toke 74), Kenworthy, Townson, Lowock (Grainger 49), Bundy (B Griffiths 57), Kettle

Birmingham & Solihull: Foden, Hunt, Anderson (Tomlinson 67), Mitchell (McLean 67), Cuplin, Petty, Brown (Williams 67), Sperando (Long 49), Phillips (Philpott 49), Halavatau, Davidson (Dowding 70), Ault, Earnshaw (Preece 39), Clayton, Connolly

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