Sam Olver kicks off Doncaster’s new season with a winning start

Doncaster Knights successfully launched their new Championship season with a thrilling late victory at Dillingham Park in Bedfordshire where fly-half Sam Olver once again produced a match-winning performance.

Doncaster Knights' Sam Olver. Picture: Tony Johnson

Although Doncaster were outscored by three tries to one and Ampthill were reduced to 13 men as Olver put over the decisive conversion with only four minutes remaining, the Knights’ win was the result of a highly competitive and collective effort by a squad in which 10 new players were making their debuts for the South Yorkshire club at the kick-off.

Olver, who had earlier kicked four penalties to level the scores at 12-12, demonstrated clear-headed calmness in the 76th minute when presented with the opportunity to claim victory in what had been the closest of contests.

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Winger Kyle Evans took a long pass from infield and shot over the line to make it 17-17 as Doncaster’s forwards took advantage of rapid yellow cards against Ampthill, down to 13 players following the sin-binning of forwards Alex Humphrey and Alex Pleasants in the 68th and 70th minutes.

Olver’s conversion not only meant he had secured a remarkable win, but that he finished the encounter with 14 points.

Doncaster led 9-7 at the interval, following three Olver penalties, but Ampthill, before their serious indiscipline which overall led to three yellow cards, had taken a 17-12 lead and were looking the more probable winners.

Well-constructed tries by Joe Roberts and Humphrey gave the hosts a measure of control, but Doncaster’s pack were outstanding in the last 15-20 minutes.

The forwards forced several penalties as they attacked Ampthill’s line, and there can be no dispute that the Knights deserved their win, however late it came.

Among several encouraging league debuts, backs Mark Best, Tom Bacon and Jack Spittle stood out, and in the Knights’ formidable pack, the back row of John Kelly, Sam Graham and Guido Volpi also delivered positive performances.

Doncaster’s first home game of the short season in which they play five games at Castle Park and five away – that’s before the play-offs – is this Friday evening (kick-off 6pm) against Coventry.

Ampthill: T Hudson, Brown, Roberts, Sage, Sutherland, Grimoldby, Marsh (Law 52), Flynn, Ward (Pleasants 62), Lutui (Beaton 62), Beckett, Janes (Johnson 58), Humphrey, Bercis, S.Hudson (Onojaife 45).

Doncaster Knights: Bacon, Evans, Newey (Foley 48), Best, Spittle, Olver, Mitchell, Hislop, Roberts (Cade 50), Denman (Jones 50), Britton (Challinor 56), Smith (Sexton 48), Kelly, Graham, Volpi.

Referee: Simon Harding (RFU).

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