Doncaster Knights 36 Bedford 20: Centre search is on as Knights are left to count cost of victory

Doncaster’s confident start to the season has laid the foundations for further success once the league campaign resumes a week on Friday and when the cup competition restarts in December.

DEBUT DELIGHT: Doncaster Knights Sam Wilson crosses to score on his trial period debut from Hull Ionians against Bedford Blues. Picture: L Pickersgill

However, the latest win in the B & I Cup, their third consecutive triumph which keeps the Castle Park club top of Pool 4 and takes them to 15 points, proved to be costly.

Today Doncaster’s coach, Clive Griffiths, who has guided the side to fourth in the Championship, begins his search for a suitable replacement for centre Andy Bulumakau, who suffered a painful ankle injury and needed to be taken off by stretcher 25 minutes into the first half.

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Confirmation of the seriousness of the suspected break will become clearer today, but once again Doncaster’s progress has come at a price.

Griffiths will be keen to sign a new centre as quickly as possible so that he takes as a full part in Doncaster’s preparations for the Championship match against the league’s top side, Bristol, at Ashton Gate on November 7.

Signs that the Knights were heading towards a comfortable victory were already in place before the nasty injury to Bulumakau, who joined from Gloucester.

Tries on five and 15 minutes by backs Paul Jarvis and Sam Wilson, scoring on debut and impressing during his trial from Hull Ionians, put Doncaster 12-0 ahead against a Bedford team whose weak defence was a sad feature of a side that conceded five first-half tries and then one late in the second.

With a strong performance by the pack in which props Tom Davies and Colin Quigley stood out alongside Matt Challinor, Michael Hills and Latu Makaafi, Doncaster sprinted into a 31-10 lead at the interval.

Scrum-half Tomasi Palu completed a fine move on 26 minutes and the fourth and fifth tries were added by flanker and captain Hills and centre Bevon Armitage in the 34th and 40th minutes.

The bonus-point try by Hills summed up perfectly Doncaster’s control. A powerful drive by the pack from a line-out smashed Bedford’s forwards, who were unable to resist the rush to the line.

A decent crowd of 1,182, a good attendance bearing in mind alternative attractions at Doncaster Rovers and at the racecourse, had watched the Knights produce an efficient display, one that had certainly been enjoyed by arguably rugby’s oldest living supporter, Jack Rosser, who is 104 next month.

It was a surprise that his team failed to repeat their earlier authority.

Indeed, the Knights conceded two tries in a second half effort that lacked concentration, was far too careless and gave away too much ball, not least because they lost five line-outs that handed the initiative to Bedford.

Doncaster were never under serious threat, but to score one try only in the second period by replacement prop Ricardo Brugara, a score which didn’t arrive until 72 minutes, was a poor return.

“We went off the boil when we needed to put our foot down on the pedal. It was our own fault because in the first half we were sublime,” said Griffiths. “We’ve shown we can be competitive and we are sending messages to the rest of the Championship, but you need to be consistent.

“If we are consistent we will surprise a few more people. The next month is going to define our season. We go to Bristol as underdogs.

“They are the best team in the Championship and after them, we have two back to back home games against Moseley and London Scottish. I am not even thinking of a top-four finish. I am, though, thinking of survival and I am delighted with the way the boys have started the season.”

Doncaster Knights: Jarvis, Wilson, Bulumakau( Roberts 25), Armitage, Lewis, Lennard, Palu (Tressider 58), Davies (Brugara 63), Bergmanas (Hunter 53), Quigley (List 72), Challinor, Phelan (Hotson 53), Makaafi (Foden 69), Hills, Eggleshaw.

Bedford Blues: Wigglesworth, Tapley, Le Bourgeois (Hakalo 52), Dodge, Dyer (Jones 67) Sharp, Veenandaal (White 67), Parilli-Ocampo, Saunders (Harris 60), Currie, Howard (Wells 61), Sheriff, Tupai, Blanchett, Vandermolen (Fenton-Wells 52).

Referee: J Merredith.