Jersey RFC 17 Doncaster Knights 17: Fightback earns share of spoils

Clive Griffiths.
Clive Griffiths.
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A NEW YEAR and the same old result for Doncaster Knights - just in extra dramatic circumstances.

Clive Griffiths’ side started 2016 by stretching their unbeaten run to 11 games amid atrocious conditions in Jersey and with a thrilling finish.

They were staring at a first defeat since early October when they trailed 17-0 at half-time today having playing into horizontal rain and a fierce wind,

Given they did not even score until Dougie Flockhart’s 72nd minute penalty, a loss looked inevitable.

Yet, somehow, after top try-scorer Latu Makaafi scored four minutes from time for Flockhart to reduce the deficit further, and against desperate Jersey defence, they dug deeper still to level.

A huge rolling maul with almost the final play of the game resulted in the hosts conceding a penalty try and Uili Kolo’ofai yellow-carded, Flockhart holding his nerve tos slot the conversion.

The South Yorkshire club had decided to charter a Boeing 737 to fly in-and-out of the Channel Island today, around 140 vociferous fans joining them, and it paid off as they remain second in the Championship.

They started well enough, despite playing into those horrendous conditions, winning their early line-outs and having success at the scrum.

The visitors had the first scoring chance of the afternoon when they worked it well with some pick and drive to give Tyson Lewis but the winger’s foot was in touch moments before touching down.

Instead, it was Jersey who began to utilise the conditions; Cope mis-kicked a penalty but Doncaster were unable to prevent the home side rolling over in the 26th minute, captain Michael Hills sin-binned for pulling it down and conceding a penalty try that Cope improved.

The visitors grew increasingly frustrated by Jersey’s antics in the scrum,

While Hill was off - and Griffiths’ side continued to struggle to escape their own 22 due to careless turnovers - Jersey drove over once more via flanker Gary Graham, Cope making it 14-0.

Declan Cusack’s drop-kick restart blew into touch without even going 10m, illustrating the strength of the wind facing his side, but they survived, although, frustratingly, conceded another penalty in possession when playing out injury-time, Cope tagging on three more points.

As expected, Doncaster had almost all the territory and decent possession in the second period but they struggled to capitalise initially.

In fairness, Premiership referee Dean Richards should have brandished a yellow card after Jersey committed a professional foul when trying to halt a rolling maul.

Instead, he only awarded a penalty - and Hills failed to take the line-out.

Next, Doncaster had a scrum on Jersey’s 22 only to be shoved back and see No8 Ollie Stedman fumble as he tried to pick up possession.

When Stedman then lost the ball from a quick tap penalty he suffered a serious neck injury in contact and was stretchered off, heading to A&E.

Another line-out went AWOL but they finally got it right with that late flourish even after a bizarre short line-out for centre Will Hurrell, of all people, went wrong.

Jersey RFC: Lane; Howe, Otto (McCrea 79), Robling, Adair; Cope, Winter-Moates (Dudley 80); Lockwood (, Selway Garcia-Veiga 57), Tomaszczyk (Herriott 69), Rowlands, Phillips (Kolo’ofai 46), Graham, Freeman, Rae.

Doncaster Knights: Jarvis; Flockhart, Clark, Hurrell, Lewis; Cusack (Humberstone 78), Heaney (Edgerley 78); List (Sprotson 73), Hunter (Veikoso 73), Quigley (John 75), Challinor, Phelan, Shaw (Makaafi 57), Hills, Stedman (Hotson 66).

Referee: Dean Richards (RFU)