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Home > News > Doncaster Knights 13 - Plymouth Albion 20
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Your News Doncaster Knights 13 - Plymouth Albion 20

Doncaster never recovered from conceding a try in the opening minute against a Plymouth side that showed the same fortitude that the Knights had recently as they too fought to secure their own place in the Championship promotion play-offs. Needing a win to safeguard against results working against them elsewhere, a sensible decision given Moseley’s surprise win over Bristol, Plymouth were not going to be denied against a Knights side that was obviously suffering from their efforts of the previous four weeks during which they had been forced to play 9 games.

For the match, Doncaster’s Director of Rugby Lynn Howells made six changes from the side that had been Rotherham the previous weekend. In the backs Steve McColl replaced Anthony Carter, Bevon Armitage returned for Chris Briers at centre and Nicky Griffiths was played at scrum half in place of Chris Hallam. In the pack, Glen Townson returned in place of Dan Smith and Adam Kettle and Simon Grainger replaced Matt Lowcock and Neil Cochrane respectively in the back row.

Doncaster allowed a long kick off by Plymouth to bounce and the visitors re-gathered the ball to drive towards the Knights line. From the ruck 20 metres out, Albion scrum half Ruaire Cushion spotted a gap in the Knights defence and put in a little chip and his winger Ben Mercer won the race to touch the ball down for the game’s opening try. Worse was to come for the Knights as after only 10 minutes and fly half Kieron Hallett extended his side’s lead with a penalty. The Knights were unable to gain any momentum with their line out, in particular, malfunctioning badly. What little possession they had they either lost or kicked away whilst Hallett’s tactical kicking for Plymouth always had the Knights on the back foot. Although the Knights defence was up to its usual miserly level their attacks, when they had the ball, fell short of the standards they had set in recent weeks.

After half-time the Knights started much more determinedly and they cut the deficit after only a couple of minutes through a penalty by fly half Warnock. This galvanised Doncaster into action and they were getting back into the game when disaster struck them after 50 minutes. Centre Hudson Tonga’uiha received a serious knee injury during play just inside the Plymouth half and, whilst he was being treated on the field, Plymouth took advantage of his absence to create an overlap which centre Sione Tuipoltu exploited to score wide out before then making Hallett’s conversion easier by taking advantage of some dilatory Knights defence running closer to the posts for his try. Worse was to come however as two minutes later, with Knights reorganising by moving McColl into the centre and bringing on Carter at full back, Almost from the restart Plymouth attacked again and their other centre Kenny Fisilau chipped over the Doncaster defence and won the race to touch the ball down for his side’s third try. The Knights pack now decided to take over and they pummelled the Plymouth line before the referee lost patience and awarded a penalty try against the visitor’s for persistent scrum infringements. Although the Knights started to look more dangerous they still struggled to gain any meaningful ball from their lineout and it was with only 2 minutes to go that Warnock took them into bonus point territory with a penalty for the final score of the game.

The Knights will look back on this game no doubt disappointed with their own performance but nothing should be taken away from Plymouth whose “cup final” this was. At this stage of the season they have achieved the first two goals they set for themselves which were to qualify for the Championship play offs and reach the semi-finals of the British and Irish Cup. They now have a week to regroup before attempting their third goal which was to reach the semi-finals of the Championship. This starts next week away at London Welsh followed by games at home to Nottingham and Exeter followed then by the reverse fixtures.

Doncaster Knights: McColl, Williams, Tonga’uiha (Carter 48), Armitage, Flockhart, Warnock, Griffiths N (Hallam 76), Davies (Corsar HT), Boden (Lawrie 67), Cusack (Thiede 71), Kenworthy (Griffiths B 71), Townson, Kettle, Boyde (Cochrane 49), Grainger

Plymouth Albion: Kingdom, Mercer, Fisilau, Tuipuloto, Gibson, Hallett, Cushion (Lewsey 78), Rice, Clark, Hopkins, Hotson, Skelding, Steven (Sprangle 65), Marriott, Watts-Jones Replacements not used: Davies, Hopper, Owen, Porter, Collier

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