Doncaster Knights 45 Esher 42: Knights hang on in topsy-turvy try bonanza at Castle Park

After scoring three tries in the opening 14 minutes and holding a 42-21 lead with 30 minutes to go, the Knights threatened to implode in spectacular fashion as Esher fought their way back for a bonus point with three converted tries in the final 20 minutes.

Doncaster started in spectacular fashion in the opening minute with a 50-metre try by winger Matt Williams, during which he beat three defenders after being given the space by good passes by Tristan Roberts and PJ Gidlow.

Their second try was scored by hooker Steve Boden after the Knights pack had driven over the line from a five-metre lineout.

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After full-back Sam Ulph had kicked a penalty for Esher, the Knights’ third try was scored by Gidlow after Roberts sent Dougie Flockhart into space before he passed to Chris Briers, who inturn passed inside to give Gidlow a simple run in. All three tries were converted by Roberts.

Their scrummaging power was then disrupted when prop Dan Frazier had to helped from the field after a collapsed scrum.

Esher’s dual-registered Wasps centre Seb Jewell raced over for a try that Ulph converted.

Esher then scored two more penalties through Ulph to give them a glimmer of hope.

The Knights suffered further injury problems when influential fly-half Roberts had to leave the field with a shoulder injury, but Stevie McColl and No 8 Ed Jackson combined to put the flying Williams on his way from 40 metres for his second try, which McColl – now acting as fly-half - converted.

The Knights were out of the blocks straight from the restart when, following a lineout, McColl put Jackson through a gap on the Esher 10m line and he made ground before passing back inside to McColl who had a clear run in for a try that he also converted. The Knights then had to withstand a period of intense pressure on their own goal line before Esher winger Gerard Mullen spotted a mismatch in the home defence and ran through to score his side’s second try.

However, the Knights hit back almost immediately when skipper Neil Cochrane crashed over from close range after the initial surge from a lineout 10 metres out had been stopped just short. McColl’s conversion extended the Knights lead to 21 points.

Now it was Esher’s turn to throw caution to the wind as spearheaded by Jewell and former Rotherham fly-half Mike Whitehead, they benefitted from the Knights’ generosity to score two tries through scrum-half James MacKenzie and Mullen, both of which were converted by Ulph.

With injury time fast approaching, McColl appeared to make the Knights safe with a penalty but Esher had other ideas and, deep in injury time, they scored another try through No 8 Sean Renwick that Ulph converted.

The remaining minute was played out with the Knights supporters more than a little anxious, but they held on for a victory that was far more decisive than the final score suggests.