Doncaster Knights 5 Worcester 35: Cup final proves an upset too far for Doncaster

Doncaster struggle to make any impact
Doncaster struggle to make any impact
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Doncaster’s heroic campaign in the British and Irish Cup ended in disappointment at Castle Park where they were convincingly beaten in a rather one-sided final by four tries to one.

Worcester thoroughly deserved to be awarded the trophy thanks to an overwhelming first- half performance which demolished Doncaster, who were never allowed to take advantage of playing at home.

Sadly, Doncaster, on one of the biggest occasions in the club’s history since their formation in 1875, failed to be as competitive as they can undoubtedly be.

Blown away by four first half Worcester tries, Doncaster, roared on by the majority of a crowd approaching 3,000, showed much greater aggression in the second half as they attempted to rescue a lost cause.

Losing 29-0 at the interval and unable to master Worcester’s powerful pack, the Knights’ spirit and intent as the second half unfolded lifted the spirits of their enthusiastic fans.

Doncaster looked sharp in the opening minute but this promise quickly evaporated as Worcester’s superior power quickly made an impact with three tries in 20 minutes.

After Doncaster had lost their own lineout in a favourable position, Worcester capitalised and from the counter attack, winger Dean Hammond shot through the Knights’ defence on seven minutes.

The aggression of Worcester’s forwards then set up a second try after Doncaster lost control of the ball near their line. Instantly, Worcester centre Alex Grove pounced to score and with fly-half Cliff Eden adding his second conversion, Doncaster were in serious trouble. Worcestergrew in confidence and again the strength of their pack crushed Doncaster’s defence.

The third try resulted from a drive to the Doncaster line i for scrum half Jean-Baptiste Bruzulier to touch down.

At this stage, the last thing Doncaster needed was a yellow card, but with their forwards once again battling to survive deep in their 22, hooker Ben Hunter upset the referee and was consequently sin-binned.

Hunter’s infringement was immediately punished as Eden put over the penalty.

Doncaster, struggling for any meaningful ball to threaten, continued to suffer as Worcester’s forwards drove on and on.

Not surprisingly, a fourth try was supplied just before half time. Hooker Dan George barged over and with Eden adding his third conversion, Worcester led 29-0.

At long last towards the end of a bruising first half for Doncaster and on such a big occasion, the pack won possession in Worcester’s 22.

Prop Tom Davies charged forward, and centre George Catchpole burst through, but Tongan fly-half Latiume Fosita could not hold a pass and the attack folded.

After the restart Doncaster forwards such as Matt Challinor began to win some ball to threaten Worcester. The reward was a try on 54 minutes by hooker Hunter who slipped over from a lineout, making amends for his yellow card in the first half.

Astonishingly, Doncaster’s goal kicker, Dougie Flockhart, took too long to take the conversion. The referee intervened and stopped him during the run up, having told him three times to get a move on.

Doncaster’s resolve may not have produced another breakthrough but their determined, solid defence at least stopped Worcester adding to their try count. The new champions were restricted to only two penalties on 64 and 68 minutes by Eden.

Enjoying possession, even if it came too late, Doncaster’s backs created two thrilling moves –firstly by winger Tyson Lewis who dashed 40 metres on 78 minutes, but was tackled just short of the line – and secondly by full-back Paul Jarvis whose zigzagging run upfield caused chaos in Worcester’s defence.

Although well beaten, Doncaster were certainly not humiliated and can now concentrate on confirming their Championship status with three games remaining. Their supporters, who along with Worcester’s, created a special atmosphere at Castle Park, applauded them loudly – defeated but with their team spirit intact.

Doncaster’s director of rugby Clive Griffiths said: “The biggest thing for me was that we didn’t make it more of a contest, but I’m proud of the boys and our defence in the second half was heroic. We were the architects of our own downfall in the first half.”

Doncaster Knights: Jarvis, Flockhart (Roberts, 69), Catchpole, Clark (Armitage, 66), Lewis, Fosita, Palu (Field, 66), Davies (List, 48), Hunter (Viekoso, 55), Quigley (John, 55), Hotson, Phelan, Challinor, Hills (Foden, 70), Eggleshaw.

Worcester: Howard, Evans, Grove, Sociaki, Biggs, Vunna (Mieres, 70), Eden, Bruzulier (Mulcrone, 56), Fainga’anuku (Rapava, 73), George, Rees (Daniels, 66), Percival, Sanderson, Cox, Gilbert, De Carcenpier.

Referee: A Brace (Ireland).