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Home > News > London Welsh 26 - Doncaster Knights 10
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Your News London Welsh 26 - Doncaster Knights 10

A disappointing performance by Doncaster Knights, not aided by unsympathetic refereeing, resulted in London Welsh taking first blood in the opening game of the pool stage of the inaugural Championship. The Welsh bonus point victory now puts the Knights needing to really play to their full potential which, if they do, still leaves a semi-final place within their compass.

For the game Knights Director of Rugby Lynn Howells made six changes from the team that had lost to Plymouth the previous weekend. In the backs, Steve McColl moved from full back to centre to repolace the injured Hudson Tonga’uiha and Chris Briers whilst Chris Hallam was recalled for the injured Nicky Griffiths. In the pack Tongan legend Ngalu Tau and Steve Lawrie replaced Michael Cusack and Steve Boden respectively, Bryn Griffiths came in for skipper Glen Kenworthy at lock and Neil Cochrane swopped places with Simon Grainger at flanker.

London Welsh started with the advantage of a strong wind and had several opportunities to open their account before their right wing Paul Sampson dived over in the corner in the 11th minute after the Knights defence had been opened up with a break midfield. Doncaster withstood the continued assault by the home side mainly due their pack that started to dominate the scrums but, even then, the Knights struggled to gain meaningful possession that they could use and, when they did, they kicked their possession away, not the best of ideas into the wind. London Welsh, to their credit, used the wind well so that the Knights were forced to spend most of the game inside their own half. The Knights lost flanker Adam Kettle with a repeat of his dead leg injury after 32 minutes and he was replaced by Simon Grainger. Just when it looked as if the Knights were going to hold out until halftime, London Welsh won a ball on the left hand side of the field and quick, long passing to the right, the last one looking at least 2 metres forward, put Sampson into space to allow him to score his second try that full back Aled Thomas converted from the touchline for the final score of the half.

Turning around only 12 points down and with the wind in their favour, the Knights were by no means out of the game and, from the kick off, they almost scored through winger Matt Williams but, unfortunately, he sustained an ankle injury and he was replaced by James Brooks after struggling on for a couple of minutes. For the next 5 minutes the Knights laid siege to the London Welsh line as their dominant scrum destroyed the home pack and, although the referee awarded 3 penalties and a free kick against them, he failed to award a penalty try and, from a Knights mistake, they managed to clear their line. The Knights eventually got on the scoreboard after 50 minutes through a penalty by their fly half Ali Warnock. Although the Knights continued to pressurise the home side but, after a further 10 minutes, it was London Welsh who scored next when, on an incursion into the Doncaster half, they won a ball midfield and the ball was moved quickly to the left where left wing Errie Claasens sidestepped inside the cover to score which Thomas converted with an excellent kick from wide out. The Knights came straight back when, after winger Dougie Flockhart broke through two tackles before the ball was moved back inside to flanker Cochrane who made ground himself before putting supporting lock Glen Townson on an unstoppable 15 metre charge to the line for a try that Warnock converted. London Welsh came back and, with just 5 minutes left, No 8 Lee Beech broke from a scrum 10 metres out to run unopposed to the line as the Doncaster defence streamed across expecting a pass to the right. Thomas’s conversion put the home side 16 points ahead and, although the Knights tried to drive over the home line twice in the closing minutes, they could not quite manage it leaving London Welsh deserved winners.

After the game Howells, although querying some of the referee’s decisions, accepted that his side, had been generally disappointing apart from the set scrums which they had dominated. A hard week is in prospect for the team for the coming week as they prepare for their next play off game at home to Nottingham on Saturday at Castle Park.

London Welsh: Thomas, Sampson, Shabbo, Gower, Claasens, Ross, Runciman, Williams, Whitehead, Ward, Corker, Powell, Mills, Beach, Hills Replacements not used: Gotting, Thomas B, O’Meara, Lewis, Evans

Doncaster Knights: Carter, Flockhart, Armitage, McColl, Williams (Brooks 46), Warnock, Hallam, Corsar, Lawrie (Boden 62), Ta’u (Cusack HT), Townson, Griffiths B, Kettle (Grainger 32), Boyde, Cochrane Replacements not used: D’Arcy, Toke, Kenworthy

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