Doncaster Knights 26 Nottingham 12: Pack power enables Knights to maintain title pressure

DONCASTER KNIGHTS ended the year on a high after beating Nottingham at Castle Park on Boxing Day to claim their first double of the season.
Doncaster Knights' Clive Griffiths, left, with Glen KenworthyDoncaster Knights' Clive Griffiths, left, with Glen Kenworthy
Doncaster Knights' Clive Griffiths, left, with Glen Kenworthy

Their failure to net a bonus point meant that Bristol will start the New Year in pole position.

But Knights are certainly the form team and in beating the Green and Whites at home in the league for only the second time at Championship level, they extended their unbeaten run to 10 games and the likelihood is that they will continue to snap at Bristol’s heels.

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It is all a far cry from 12 months ago when a 24-3 defeat against Nottingham at Meadow Lane – their fifth league defeat in succession – left Knights languishing in the bottom four and facing a worrying start to 2015.

Questions were also starting to be asked as to whether Clive Griffiths was still the best man to be at the helm, not so a year later with the Welshman signing a new two-year deal last week.

Knights struck the first blow, following a lively opening spell during which both teams threatened, when Dougie Flockhart kicked the first of his four first-half penalties which secured his side a 12-5 interval lead.

Nottingham, who must have felt reasonably confident at the break, having played into the wind, scored the only try of the half through wing Pila Longi on 12 minutes following pressure from a scrum which was the result of a Doncaster mix-up.

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But the second half, during which time their pack got well on top, belonged to Doncaster.

Wing Tyson Lewis finished well on 55 minutes and replacement back-row Ollie Stedman touching down from a driving maul whilst Nottingham had a forward in the sin-bin.

Nottingham had the last word with a converted try by centre Ben Woods but their second half performance failed to impress coach Martin Haag. “I thought we competed well in the first half but our discipline let us down. Unfortunately, Donny got their big pack going and we couldn’t cope.”

Doncaster No 8 and former Nottingham front-row Alex Shaw, said: “We put them under a lot of pressure in the first half and it’s hard work for a team to withstand that sort of pressure for 80 minutes and we got well on top in the forwards in the second half.”

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Doncaster Knights: Jarvis, Flockhart, Clark, Hurrell, Lewis (Bulumakau 67), Cusack, Heaney, List (John 72), Hunter (Veikoso 69), Quigley, Challinor, Phelan (Hotson 73), Makaafi (Stedman 55), Hills, Shaw.

Nottingham: Robinson, Murray, Woods, Stevens, Longi, Mugford (Rayner 67), Veenendaal, Davies, Singleton, Carey (Heard 63), Morris, Green, Cooper (Langley 56), Everard (Kitchener 70), Grant.

Referee: M O’Grady (IRFU).