Doncaster Knights withstand Nottingham pressure to rebuild confidence ahead of Championship Cup

Doncaster’s eighth league win from 14 Championship games by four tries to three at Castle Park boosted their confidence as they prepare to resume their Cup campaign with one of the toughest away games of the season at Coventry on Saturday.

Nottingham stretched the Knights throughout a most competitive game in which Doncaster were forced to defend for long periods.

First-half tries by centre Robbie Smith, hooker Will Holling and flanker Thom Smith set up the victory, and the maximum of five points was secured spectacularly in the 79th minute when replacement full-back Billy McBryde intercepted a pass and sprinted 95 metres to score.

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Once again, scrum half Alex Dolly contributed positively with his goal kicking, putting over 12 points through three conversions and two penalties.

Doncaster Knights' Alex Dolly kicked 12 points in the win over Nottingham. (Picture: Tony Johnson)Doncaster Knights' Alex Dolly kicked 12 points in the win over Nottingham. (Picture: Tony Johnson)
Doncaster Knights' Alex Dolly kicked 12 points in the win over Nottingham. (Picture: Tony Johnson)

His second on 69 minutes was struck accurately at an important stage of the contest as Nottingham’s enterprising style threatened the Knights’ defence for long periods.

Dolly’s penalty supplied a much-needed lead of 10 points, but Doncaster could not be certain of ultimate success because Nottingham continued to create dangerous positions from which they should have scored.

However, McBryde’s thrilling try settled any doubts, and with five points achieved, Doncaster stay fifth, behind Bedford, Coventry,Jersey Reds and leaders, Ealing Trailfinders.

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Meanwhile, Coventry’s outstanding win, away at Ealing in the Championship by 22-19, shows the size of Doncaster’s task in the Championship Cup this weekend, and although the Midlands’ club will make several changes, they’ll still provide the hardest of challenges to overcome.

With three consecutive victories in Pool 2, Doncaster are top and all their efforts will be concentrated on the Cup as the competition takes up all next month as the Knights face, after Coventry, London Scottish at Castle Park in a fortnight and then Bedford Blues(away) in three weeks.

Overall, coach Steve Boden was delighted with the Nottingham result, but emphasised this concern:

“ While we played some good stuff and should celebrate the creation of so many scoring opportunities, we should ask ourselves why we didn’t score more. We left 25-30 points out there.”

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Doncaster Knights: Metcalf (McBryde 66), Simpson, R Smith (Margetts 59), Edwards, Holden, Olver, Dolly, Owen (Pope 52), Holling (Edgson 54), Armstrong (Garside 69), Ehizode, Mintern, Sigren (Daly 66), T Smith (Cardew 40), Hudson.

Nottingham: Olowofela (Ramage 52), D. Williams, Green, Neville, Graham (Hollingsworth 60), Bunting, Slatem (Goodwin 62), Sio (T Williams 53),Dickinson (Vanes 40), Betts (Bishop 67), Bundy, Maloney, Cox, Kirwan, Poullett.

Referee: Ian Tempest.