Big Match Verdict – Dougie Flockhart avoids spotlight after hat-trick secures Doncaster Knights victory over Richmond

WHEN someone scores a hat-trick of tries, ordinarily, you would think it is back to the dressing room to celebrate, then reliving the feat in a round of media interviews before perhaps marking it all with a few beers.

Doncaster's Oliver Stedman breaks through the Richmond defence.

This was not quite the case for Doncaster Knights’ Dougie Flockhart on Saturday.

He doubles up as the club’s strength and conditioning coach so instead, in the immediate aftermath of his treble against Richmond, the Scottish winger was still busy out on the darkening Castle Park pitch putting players who did not receive much game time through their paces.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

It was perhaps fitting that he was not basking in the glory of his own success given this was very much a team performance that secured the South Yorkshire club a third consecutive Championship win.

They only led 5-0 at the turnaround but had been under intense pressure from opponents who, although without a league victory since October, posed plenty of problems.

However, Doncaster improved markedly in the second period and, as part-timers Richmond tired, ruthlessly took control.

When they lost at home to Yorkshire Carnegie on December 29 there was genuine fears that Knights could get dragged into a relegation battle.

They knew, though, they had three games against rivals around them and they targeted three victories; Clive Griffiths’s side will leave January having done exactly what they set out to do with wins at Coventry and Hartpury College before this latest triumph.

They are now up to seventh just seven points adrift of Bedford Blues in fourth rather than looking over their shoulders the other way.

Skills and backs coach Paul Cooke admitted: “It gives us a little bit of scope to, if you like, plan for next year.

“Touch wood we’re out of the bottom zone and any threat of being dragged into a battle. It gives everyone a lift. It’s been a tough old season at times for one reason or another on and off the field and the players have been a credit.

“They’ve stuck together and without that resolve and togetherness we wouldn’t be where we are today. We’ve added to the ranks and done some nice things off the field, brought in some good players but the players here since day one have stayed positive and we’re starting to see a bit of what we’ve practiced.”

Flockhart scored his first try after just six minutes following Stevie McColl’s clever chip but Richmond then dominated the first period as Doncaster, playing into the wind, struggled with their line-out, kicking and distribution at key points.

The visitors wasted a number of chances although, in fairness, the home side did defend excellently and they were superb in the second period. Flockhart added a 47th minute penalty and soon after secured his second try with a fine effort.

Doncaster began to exert pressure in the scrum, too, and, with far better handling, started to create their opponents all manner of problems.

Centre Lloyd Hayes, back in the side after Will Owen suffered a broken hand, shrugged off a tackle on the hour mark to race in for their third try and scrum-half Tom James claimed the 
bonus point six minutes later before Flockhart completed his treble by latching onto Elliott Creed’s chip.

The 34-year-old who has racked up more than 200 games for Doncaster, has had to bide his time at points this season given such competition at the club.

Paul Jarvis was on one wing before being injured recently and Curtis Wilson had impressed on the other yet was on loan with Leicester Tigers on Saturday.

Cooke said: “We could have brought him (Wilson) back in this week but we just felt this was a reward for the players that went down to Hartpury last week, got 48 points and played really well.

“Dougie and Tyson (Lewis) came in and we changed our whole back-three from the Carnegie game.

“We have some really good outside backs but unfortunately you can only pick three and maybe one off the bench.

“We’re blessed in that department and again today they came up trumps.”

Richmond did not score until Callum Sirker’s intercept in the 75th minute and Cooke insisted: “ I thought we were as good first half in different aspects as we were second half going forward.

“We spoke about this Richmond team that start really well, stay in games and then fade away in second halves.

“We hung in defensively in the first half and that built us a solid foundation for what came after,” he added.

Doncaster Knights: McColl; Flockhart, Creed, Hayes, Lewis; Olver (Foley 74), James (Seniloli 67); Hislop (Williams 70), Hunter (Mayhew 52), Quigley (Sproston 63), Tyrell (Challinor 63), Civetta, Stedman, Calladine (Jones 71), Pitman.

Richmond: Dennett; Sirker, Ward (Kirby 63), Hudson, Rath; Damant, Jones L; Goodrick-Clarke, Freestone (Corradi 62), Spelman (Trenier 49), Warden, Lenygon (Crawford 56), Parker (Saysell 63), Liston, Davies. Replacements unused: Cunnew, Gibbs.

Referee: Andrew Jackson (RFU)