Doncaster Knights 16 Nottingham 15 - Sam Olver holds his nerve with late match-winning conversion

Doncaster's Sam Olver kicks a penalty to seal the win (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
Doncaster's Sam Olver kicks a penalty to seal the win (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
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Doncaster, who have moved up to ninth following this last- minute win at Castle Park, had not played at home for six weeks, but it was certainly worth the wait.

With the final play of the closest of encounters which seldom produced any sparkle, Doncaster fly-half, Sam Olver, struck the match-winning conversion from a difficult angle to grab a dramatic victory.

As a result of Olver’s accuracy in the 80th minute, Doncaster seized their fourth Championship win, one which takes them to 17 points, and they are now above Nottingham as they prepare for Saturday’s contest at Ampthill, the Bedfordshire club who have made a strong start in their first season at this level.

Olver’s heroics, including three earlier penalties which had given his side a 9-7 lead, were produced precisely when needed the most.

As the climax approached, Nottingham, who had dominated the second half and had scored two tries through winger David Williams, ledy 15-9 but, fatally, lost control as Doncaster’s forwards won a five metres scrum on 78 minutes.

The ball was moved swiftly by scrum-half Tom James. Replacement full-back Cameron Cowell joined the attack and passed to winger Howard Packman whose strength took him through for a thrilling try to make it 15-14.

Olver responded to his challenge calmly and Doncaster’s players celebrated as the referee instantly blew for the final time.

“When the kick went over, it was a feeling of relief and I was a bit nervous because it was a match-winning kick,” explained Olver.

“I must give credit to the boys who stuck at it, but we didn’t play well and coughed up the ball too easily and gave away too many penalties,” he added.

His coach, Clive Griffiths, was relieved, too.

“Olver’s kicks were outstanding and as regards Packman, he’s a big, strong lad and a top finisher who took his chance well.”

Interestingly, as Griffiths prepares for Ampthill, he has arranged a joint training session on Tuesday at Castle Park with Super League side Hull FC, who begin their new season against Leeds Rhinos in two weeks.

Doncaster Knights: McColl (Cowell 69), Packman, Hayes (Roberts 78), Foley, Evans, Olver, James, Hislop (Thomas 69), Hunter (Edgson 78), Quigley (Foster 55), Challinor, Eames, Stedman (Lokotui 78), Conradie, Pitman (Calladine 62).

Nottingham: Scanlon, Williams, Strong, Peters, Foley (Spittle 52), O’Leary, McConnell, Sio (Hill 52), Cole (Farnworth 66), Betts (Heffernan 23), Jones (Chessum 73), Qualter, Cecil, Owen, Poullett.

Referee: D Richards (RFU).