Doncaster Knights 24 Jersey Reds 20: Knights edge rivals to clinch Championship play-off place

Doncaster Knights will play in the Championship play-off for the second year running
Doncaster Knights will play in the Championship play-off for the second year running
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DONCASTER Knights have reached the Championship play-offs for a second season running.

They needed to beat rivals Jersey Reds today to essentially keep their hopes alive.

They did that, ending their opponents’ 10-game winning run at the same time with this crucial victory.

Nevertheless, in the immediate aftermath, fourth-placed Doncaster still thought they would need to gain three more points from next week’s final regular game

against leaders London Irish at Castle Park, not a simple task by any means.

However, a little over half-an-hour after the game ended, a huge cheer suddenly erupted from the home dressing room.

News had filtered through that Cornish Pirates - looking favourites to usurp them from the top-four with an easier fixture at home to Bedford next week - had suffered a shock 35-32 loss at bottom-placed Richmond.

All of which means, Clive Griffiths’ side, who reached a maiden Championship final last year after reaching the play-offs for the first time, cannot be caught.

There is no pressure now on next Saturday’s game against Irish who they are also likely to then face in the semi-finals over two legs as well.

With tireless blindside Jack Ram putting in a superb effort, No8 Alex Shaw impressing on his return and Paul Jarvis as dangerous as ever from full-back, Doncaster outplayed their rivals in the second period.

Goalkicking winger Dougie Flockhart contributed 19 points along the way, his stylish 54th minute try proving the killer moment.

Indeed, Jersey’s only score in the second period was deep into injury-time when former Knights prop Jake Armstrong charged over with the final play, Brendan Cope converting to snatch a bonus point.

Jersey were left to rue Callum Sheedy’s two missed penalties, including a simple one from almost in front of the posts that saw the on-loan Bristol fly-half soon hauled off.

However, defeat would have been harsh on Doncaster especially after they so successfully negotiated 10 minutes in the first half when down to 14 men.

Loosehead Richard List was sin-binned for dragging down a maul that also saw Jersey awarded a penalty try in the 21st minute, Sheedy converting to level 13-13.

However, when the Doncaster prop returned, his side were actually 16-13 ahead after Flockhart slotted the third of his four penalties.

Knights winger Tyson Lewis had earlier raced in for a try - crucially after Flockhart had just denied Jersey moments earlier by intercepting at the other end - and had another disallowed after the break.

But Doncaster, despite some worries in the line-out, were ready for this game and it showed.

Doncaster Knights: Jarvis; Flockhart, Bulumakau, Hayes, Lewis; Humberstone, Heaney; List (Bergmanas 56), Hunter (Nelson 67), Quigley (Sprotson 63), Challinor (Williams 63), Young, Ram (Bergmanas 28-31 Edgerley 77), Hills (Carpenter 67), Shaw.

Jersey Reds: Cuthbert; Watkins, Davies, Ma’afu, Scott; Sheedy (Cope 51), Hardy (Dudley 69); Woolmore (McCarthy 57), Buckle (Selway 57), Kerrod, Phillips, McKern (Kolo’ofai 47), Freeman, Graham, Hainine.