Doncaster Knights 12 Richmond 22: Tribute to tragic Ian Williams can’t be topped with win

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DONCASTER Knights paid tribute to late team-mate Ian Williams but they could not deliver the win they wanted to achieve in his name.

On Saturday, Clive Griffiths’s side played their first game at Castle Park since the 27-year-old prop collapsed and died before a training session there last month.

Doncaster's Josh Tyrell.

Doncaster's Josh Tyrell.

Fittingly, it was against Richmond, one of Williams’s former teams and where his parents have had a long affiliation.

Prior to kick-off, a minute’s applause was observed but Doncaster could not muster the victory they so desperately craved.

In part, this was down to their slow start in the freezing conditions – snow had fallen intermittently on the morning of the game – as part-timers Richmond eventually built up a 17-0 advantage.

Admittedly, the South Yorkshire club did rally but left it too late and have now suffered back-to-back Championship defeats after the narrow loss at Cornish Pirates.

They head to Bedford Blues on Saturday realising they must return to winning ways if they want to secure their target of a third successive top-four finish.

Richmond flanker Jack Allcock broke away from a surging driving line-out to open the scoring, Rob Kirby improving.

It did not just cost Doncaster seven points, however; captain Michael Hills suffered a knee injury in the maul beforehand and had to depart injured.

Kirby added a penalty before the unlikely figure of Richmond loosehead prop Jeremy Cunnew spotted a gap at a ruck from outside the Knights 22 and set off for a try he will long remember, again improved by Kirby,

Doncaster’s own front-row Joe Sproston did hit back with their first try but they were dealt a hammer blow just before half-time.

They felt they halted a visiting attack and forced a penalty on their own goalline only for referee Hamish Smales to consult with his touch judge and, amid much confusion, award a try to Richmond lock Chris Davies.

Doncaster did respond in the 47th minute after opposition flanker Jesse Liston gave away a penalty for a deliberate knock-on.

Simon Humberstone kicked to the corner where a series of pick-and-go carries edged them close until Josh Tyrell finally got over, Humberstone converting to see his side trail just 22-12.

As Doncaster pressed to narrow the gap further, they had the vast majority of possession and territory but just lacked execution when it mattered most.

Griffiths saw his side create a handful of half-chances but Richmond, too, still threatened.

However, neither side scored further so it was the London side who completed a league double over Knights who sit in sixth.

They now turn their attentions to Bedford, in third just three points ahead but with a game in hand after their game at Nottingham yesterday was postponed.