Doncaster Knights 22 Cornish Pirates 24: Knights punished for a slow start to the second half

Clive Griffiths, pictured training at Castle Park Rugby Club.
Clive Griffiths, pictured training at Castle Park Rugby Club.
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Doncaster Knights threw away a 10-3 half-time lead to fall to their second defeat of the Championship season.

The Castle Park side made a bright start to the game on the back of a derby win over Yorkshire Carnegie last weekend and it wasn’t long before they took the lead. A break from flanker Latu Makaafi was finished by centre Mat Clark and Dougie Flockhart added the extras.

The Pirates responded soon after with a penalty from fly-half Keiron Hallett but it was the Knights in control and Flockhart soon re-established their seven-point lead with a penalty.

The Knights pressed hard as the first half grew into the latter stages and when Pirates loosehead prop Jack Andrew was sin binned close to half-time it looked as if they may just run away with it but the visiting defenses held firm.

A complete swing in momentum followed the interval and the Pirates played with a renewed enthusiasm to put Doncaster under the cosh. A barrage of attacks were thrown at the home side and the Pirates got their breakthrough on 50 minutes when scrum-half Tom Kessell found a gap down the blindside to touch down after a lineout.

Two quickfire tries followed for the Pirates to give them a 14-point lead; first from Canadian international Matt Evans and then from fly-half Hallett who converted both.

Doncaster have fought back from losing positions before, most recently against Jersey, and a comeback looked like it may be on the cards when flanker Makaafi wrestled his way over from short range following a powerful Knights scrum. However Flockhart was unable to add the extras and Clive Griffiths’ charges had a lot to do with little time left on the clock.

Despite the clock being aginst them the Knights continued to press and Michael Hills scored to bring the game to within two points with second left to play.

The Knights mounted a final attack but the durable Pirates defence were able to force winger Paul Jarvis in to touch.

Doncaster Knights: Jarvis, Flockhart, Clark, Armitage, Lewis, Lennard, Palu; List, Hunter, Quigley, Challinor, Hotson, Makaafi, Hills, Shaw. Replacements: Davies, Bergmanas, Davies, Phelan, Roberts, Bulumakau, Bravo.

Cornish Pirates: Evans, Goss, Riley, Hendrickson, Moyle, Hallett, Kessell; Andrew, Carpenter, Paver, Carrick-Smith, Barry, Morgan, Cheeseman, McGlone. Replacements: Ford-Robinson, Channon, Gendall, Graulich, Atkinson, Cattle, May.