(VIDEO): Doncaster Knights 29 Yorkshire Carnegie 16: Dominant Knights finally ease nerves for Griffiths

0
Have your say

RESTLESS Doncaster Knights director of rugby Clive Griffiths must have clocked up more metres here than his entire pack.

Pacing up and down the balcony from his vantage point behind the posts, the 60 year-old was almost in perpetual motion watching this encounter and clearly cut a frustrated figure.

No way through for Doncaster's Ben Hunter against Carnegie. (Picture: Scott Merrylees SM1007/02c)

No way through for Doncaster's Ben Hunter against Carnegie. (Picture: Scott Merrylees SM1007/02c)

To the naked eye, it was hard to understand; his dominant side were in control of this derby almost from the first whistle and always seemed destined to finally pick up their first Championship win in 10 outings after nine successive, painful losses.

Given they were only three points above the relegation zone, this was just what they required, just what they demanded.

But Griffiths knows his side too well. Despite all that dominance, they did not have the leading margin to illustrate it and, so, when yet another clear-cut opportunity was wasted, either by a wayward pass or more poor decision-making, the Welshman could see history repeating itself.

“It was 19-3 after 43 minutes and we missed a chance,” he said. “Then we missed another on 50 minutes and just came away with a penalty.

“There was another after that and you can just sense it’s going to happen again as it did against Rotherham and Bedford when we should have won and then last week when we were just five-nil down at Worcester.

“They (Carnegie) had had two players sin-binned, too...

“That’s why I was up and down. But we’ve got to be delighted. There had been a lot of negativity about the run we’d be on and I am angered by that as in between we’ve done great in the B&I Cup.

“Anyone who saw the Rotherham and Bedford league games will know we had points stolen there. We’re still in a dogfight but if we play like this again we’ll be okay.

“It is a big turning point in our season. They (Carnegie) are a good side but were second best today.”

It would, indeed, have been a travesty – maybe their death knell – if Doncaster, inspired by Tongan international fly-half Ume Fosita on his home debut, had not emerged with victory.

They were superior in all areas with Fosita’s running game, after being switched from full-back at Worcester, “outstanding” and should have won by more than 30 points.

Thankfully for them, though, that prolifgacy did not prove their undoing.

Indeed, they must wish they could play Carnegie every week; their last league win had been at Headingley in September and they were clearly far hungrier than their insipid rivals, who looked like they needed to be told this was actually a competitive rugby game let alone the traditional, eagerly-anticipated derby.

Much of Carnegie’s woe stemmed from their ineptitude at the line-out where hooker Phil Nilsen – getting a rare start with Jack Walker on England Under- 20s duty – struggled too often for accuracy.

However, there was a strange lethargy about all of his side’s play which left coach Tommy McGee perplexed.

Yet still, it was not until Doncaster opted for the direct approach – after numerous overlaps had been botched – and captain Michael Hills crossed following a perfectly-executed driving maul in the 61st minute to make it 29-9, that they were out of sight.

McGee saw captain Ryan Burrows and scrum-half Chris Pilgrim sin-binned as Carnegie struggled for any pattern in the first half when they were fortunate to be just 19-3 down.

Tyson Lewis scored a classy try after a lovely pass from excellent centre Andy Bulumakau on 11 minutes with Dougie Flockhart converting and adding four penalties compared to Harry Leonard’s solitary kick.

But, after Knights wasted more chances at the start of the second period, Flockhart instead slotting three points, Leonard added two more penalties to keep them still in the hunt at 22-9.

However, Hills took control with that try before Flockhart’s brilliant tackle denied Pete Lucock at the other end.

Carnegie’s Sam Edgerton stepped over in the 77th minute, Louis Grimoldby converting, but, by then, Doncaster had already secured the victory they desperately craved, their mood heightened further when it emerged bottom-placed Plymouth Albion had lost at Bedford, thus opening up a seven-point gap.

Doncaster Knights: Jarvis; Flockhart, Bulumakau, Clark (Armitage 78), Lewis; Fosita, Palu; List (Davies 57), Hunter, Quigley (Veikoso 71), Hotson (Makaafi 66), Phelan (Willgriff 66), Challinor, Hills, Shaw. Unused replacements: Bryant, Maplesden.

Yorkshire Carnegie: Georgiou; Doherty, Clarke, Lucock, Holmes; Leonard (Grimoldby 71), Pilgrim (Edgerton 50); Imiolek (Harris 47), Nilsen (Graham 73), Tideswell (Hooper 73), Jones, Myerscough (Smith 57), Williams, C Walker, Burrows. Unused replacement:Joyce.

Referee: T Foley (RFU).