THERE are ample reasons why Doncaster Knights’ Clive Griffiths rates Will Hurrell one of the “finds of the season.”
At 61, the club’s long-serving director of rugby has witnessed plenty of talent come and go in the sport and is clearly a good judge of quality and potential.
In Hurrell, the bulky and forceful winger recruited from National One part-timers Coventry in the summer but now making his mark at centre, Doncaster undoubtedly have a gem.
Ollie Stedman, the former Newcastle Falcons and London Welsh No 8 whose two first-half tries set up this victory over Cornish Pirates, may have rightly received plenty of plaudits on Saturday.
However, it was hard to ignore the thundering presence of Hurrell, a powerful carrier in midfield who caused the visitors no end of problems and duly helped Doncaster – fighting relegation last season – up to the dizzy heights of third in the Championship.
Having come through the Leicester Tigers academy, he never truly kicked on among the elite and has become almost itinerant since with spells at London Welsh, Rotherham Titans, Coventry and now at Castle Park.
However, Griffiths – whose side’s attacking ethos perfectly suits Hurrell’s blitzkrieg game – feels the 25-year-old’s time will come again especially if his eye-catching try at the start of the second period is anything to go by.
“He is a powerful boy and use him wisely he will break those tackles,” said the Welshman. “If you get half a tackle on him, he will blast through you.
“The first try after half-time when he broke through on the drop-off ball was outstanding. That’s typical of him.
“You have to get really good shoulder contact on him or he’s through or offloading on your tackle.
“He’s such a big player to go to for us. When they start double-hitting him then we can by-pass him, too, so it’s good to have that in his armoury.
“He was at London Welsh and he didn’t quite grasp the nettle there but the way he’s going at the moment surely he’ll move to a higher level. We’ll try and keep him here, though, of course.”
On the former England Under 20s international, Griffiths added: “He’s transferred from the wing quite easily and is a real go-forward player.
“That’s what I like about him. He played against us for Coventry in National One (2013-14) and caused us problems so I had no doubt that when he became available I’d try and get him to Castle Park. He has been one of the finds of the season.”
Doncaster were already in decent command of this game by half-time courtesy of Stedman’s near-identical line-out drive scores, Dougie Flockhart improving both for a 14-6 interval lead.
Cornish had been limited to two penalties from Kieran Hallett but had threatened to get closer when Alex Cheesman almost squeezed in at the corner just before the break only for Tyson Lewis and Paul Jarvis to send the flanker into touch.
Instead, it would be after the hour mark when Pirates did finally score a try via Will Graulich, testimony to Doncaster’s fine defensive effort, and it amounted to nothing but a brief flicker especially as they then had two players, Joe Atkinson followed by Graulich, sin-binned for separate incidents.
Knights captain Michael Hills had already secured their bonus point after just 50 minutes following yet more of the incisive football Griffiths is trying to espouse, Flockhart adding his fourth conversion.
With Doncaster second-rows Tyler Hotson and Jon Phelan so dominant, Sam Edgerley sniping away at scrum-half and the colossus Hurrell bullying their opponents, a fourth victory of the campaign was never in doubt.
With Rotherham and London Scottish both losing the previous night, it made for a pleasant surge up the table.
Griffiths, whose side host Scottish on Saturday, admitted: “We were pretty dominant; we got the five points which was absolutely essential given how those games went Friday. We’d been pretty hard done by losing (27-20) the previous week at Yorkshire Carnegie but I told the boys no excuses today and to find reasons to win it. They found that in bucketfuls.”
Doncaster Knights: Jarvis; Flockhart, Clark, Hurrell (Bulumakau 77), Lewis; Bryant, Edgerley (Field 80); List (Bergmanas 68), Hunter (Viekoso 68), Quigley (John 67), Hotson, Phelan (Young 74), Shaw, Hills, Stedman. Unused: Makaafi.
Cornish Pirates: May (Bodilly 55); Arnott, Riley, James, Evans; Hallett, Day (Oulton 75); Walker (Innard 53), Elloway (Andrew 53), Jamieson (Paver 64), McGlone (Atkinson 63), Beukeboom, Cheesman, Simmonds, Carpenter (Graulich 20).
Referee: I Tempster (RFU).