A BIG win over his former club made Doncaster Knights full-back Charlie Foley’s home debut something special.
Foley and his fellow outside-backs flourished on the new pitch at Castle Park as the Knights put Rotherham Titans to the sword, running in six tries in a 44-0 success.
Combined with their opening- weekend victory at Jersey, the bonus-point win added up to an impressive start to the campaign for Doncaster and Foley said they will go into another all-Yorkshire showdown, at Carnegie next weekend, in good heart.
“It is a local derby, Rotherham have been successful over the years and obviously Donny in the last few years have been right at the top of the league,” said Foley.
“It is definitely the first game we all look for at the start of the season on the fixture list and being the first game at home, on the new pitch, it is great to get a big win.”
The first time we got a chance we drove into them and drove them about 40 metres and that set the platform for the rest of the game.Charlie Foley
Rotherham are rebuilding under new head coach Andy Key, the former Yorkshire Carnegie director of rugby and they struggled to cope with Doncaster’s pace and invention, despite some committed defence.
It was one-way traffic from the kick-off, Rotherham conceding a penalty which led to a touchdown for Alex Shaw and the first of Simon Humberstone’s three conversions.
Doncaster led 14-0 inside 10 minutes, No 9 Michael Heaney – who ran the game alongside fly-half Humberstone – adding a second close-range touchdown. Humberstone booted penalties either side of a try from Andy Bulumakau and the home team were 25-0 ahead at the interval.
Humberstone dummied over soon afterwards and then Bulumakau crossed for his second before the hour mark.
Titans dug in after that, but Doncaster scored on the final play when Foley’s pass was finished by Junior Bulumakau and Declan Cusack landed a towering conversion off the touchline.
Doncaster were not put under any sustained pressure as Rotherham were starved of both possession and field position and Foley felt they could take satisfaction from an all-round team display.
Knights’ forwards were on top from the opening moments and their backs created a series of opportunities when gaps began to open up.
“As an outside-back it is always nice when we score some points and move the ball through the hands,” said Foley, one of four Rotherham players to switch over to Doncaster at the end of last season.
“But we worked a lot of defence during the week so to get a nil was a big thing for us.”
The early try meant Rotherham never had chance to settle into the game and Foley said a strong start was part of the hosts’ gameplan.
He added: “They had a tough result against Nottingham last week so we knew if we got stuck into them early we would be in the ascendency and the boys up front did the job for us.
“The first time we got a chance we drove into them and drove them about 40 metres and that set the platform for the rest of the game.”
Doncaster were in total control by half-time, but Foley was encouraged by the way they maintained their concentration in the second 40 minutes.
“We knew if we switched off they had the players to hurt us, the boys who were there last year and the ones who they’ve signed,” he said.
“We said before the game we had to be ruthless and if we got ahead we had to carry on and keep going and we did that.
“It has been a great start for us.
We now turn to Carnegie next week, which is another big test for us and we will be looking to go three from three.”
Rotherham have lost their opening two games and clearly have their work cut out to climb away from the foot of the table, but Foley believes his old side can have a good season.
“It is very early and they have got a new squad,” he pointed out.
“They need the new boys to bed in.
“They have had two tough games, two ‘derby’ games, to start off with, but knowing some of the boys as I do, I do think they will be able to turn it around.
“Rotherham have got that core group of lads and when the new boys bed in I am sure they will be able to get some positive results.”
Doncaster Knights: Foley, J Bulumakau, A Bulumakau, Owen, Lewis, Humberstone, Heaney (Cusack), List (Bergmanas), Hunter (Nelson), Quigley (Sproston), Challinor, Hicks (Eames), Shaw, Hills, Carpenter (Hill).
Rotherham Titans: Thomas, Henry, Peters, Barker (Loizias), Cheshire, Millar, Davies, Williams, Cole (Murphy), Shields (Foster), Lasis (Peters), Hodge, Grange, Calladine (Williams), Boladau (Burns).
Referee: I Tempest.