Defeat at Coventry was not part of script for ambitious Doncaster Knights

Ambitious Doncaster Knights suffered a setback on the opening day of the Championship season.

Steve Boden, Doncaster Knights head coach (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

Having expressed their desire to build on their third-place finish in last season’s second-tier, Knights fell to a disappointing defeat at Butts Park.

The Knights started the game the strongest and with impressive intensity they quickly raced into a double-figure lead; Steve Boden’s men looked quickest to every exchange and sharper in mind as well.

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Sam Olver opened the scoring with a penalty, following a dominant scrum, before Kyle Evans got his first try of the new season.

It was not typical Evans try with the winger barreling over at the back of a 15-man rolling maul but it was the end result of some superb, patient lineout work. Olver slotted the extras from wide out.

The hosts woke up shortly after and began to challenge the Donny line, back-row Josh Bainbridge and former Knight Will Owen looked lively when given space.

On 30 minutes Coventry were awarded a kickable penalty but turned down the opportunity for points, instead going to the corner. The Knights forwards were able to repel the initial drive but when scrum-half Josh Barton hit Nile Dacres on a nice short line the second row was able to barge over. Tony Fenner adds the extras to pull Coventry within three.

Fenner levelled scores with a long-range penalty as the clock ticked to half-time.

The hosts quickly set about the Knights line after the restart and only resolute defending prevented a Coventry score.

Against the run of play the Knights showed their ruthless edge to move back into the lead.

After forcing a scrum penalty, Olver put his forwards in the corner and they executed with aplomb. A tidy lineout was quickly driven forward with hooker Will Holling dotted down for a score converted by Olver.

The Knights were given no time to appreciate their lead however and it was quickly stripped away from them with back-to- back Coventry scores.

Firstly, Adam Peters got over from close range following a deep line out and then Josh Bainbridge finished some lovely hands after Ryan Burrows had returned the restart with interest. Replacement fly-half Tom Curtis hit the second conversion to make the scores 22-17.

Trailing for the first time the Knights needed to find something in the final quarter but it wasn’t to be and the hosts just seemed to get stronger as the game went on.

Replacement stand-off Tom Curtis struck with just over ten to play, darting through a gap and then five minutes later Burrows scored from close range.

The Knights did manage to improve on their total when John Kelly scored from a tap penalty. The number eight showing his raw strength after a surging Jack Spittle break drew a foul out of the Cov defence.

It was the hosts who had the last laugh, however, as Curtis struck a long range penalty to end the game, final score 39-22.

Knights will look to bounce back when London Scottish arrive at Castle Park next week.

A late try ended Hull Ionians’ hopes of a victory at Loughborough Students.

They were 24-22 ahead with just a minute left on the clock, their tries having come from hooker Ben Stephenson (2) and prop Ben Bell, with centre Lewis Minikin kicking all conversions and a penalty.

However, Loughborough’s fourth try came on 80 minutes, giving them the win and a bonus point and leaving Ionians reeling.

Wharfedale were left with just a four-try bonus point from a 
43-26 home loss to Sedgley Park.

Full-back Rian Hamilton scored two tries, while prop Elliot Stockton and No 8 Josh Burridge both added tries for Wharfedale. Stand-off Jack Blakeney-Edwards kicked three of the conversions, but the Manchester outfit proved too strong.