Spirited Knights show more fight as they sign off with pride

Doncaster's Matt Challinor
Doncaster's Matt Challinor
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Doncaster Knights atoned for their listless first-leg performance with a much more spirited display to close another encouraging season for the Castle Park outfit.

A heavy 35-3 defeat to firm promotion favourites Irish in the first leg on home soil six days earlier had taken the sting out of the second leg of this Championship play-off semi-final.

But having surprisingly reached the promotion final last season, and followed it up with a run to the semi-finals in this campaign, there was still pride to play for for Clive Griffiths’s side.

They showed plenty of that with a gutsy performance at the Madejski Stadium in Berkshire. Knights matched their much-vaunted opponents in the first half almost blow for blow, and, after sharing four tries, they trailed only 17-15 at the break; Jack Ram and the evergreen Matt Challinor crossing the whitewash.

Doncaster continued to fight in the second half, with a close-range score from replacement Joe Sproston keeping the scoreboard tight.

However, tries by Ben Franks, Dave Porecki and Scott Steele ensured Irish won both legs and the tie overall by nearly 50 points.

Irish progress to the final with Yorkshire Carnegie, who are at home in the first leg on on Wednesday, May 17, with the return fixture on Wednesday, May 24.

London Irish: Bell; Lewington, Tikoirotuma, Mulchrone, Cokanasiga; Marshall, McKibbin; Hobbs-Awoyemi, Paice, Franks, De Chaves, Sinclair, Coman, Cowan, Treviranus. Replacements: Porecki, Court, Hoskins, Robson, Gilsenan, Steele, Tonks.

Doncaster Knights: Jarvis; Flockhart, Bulumakau, Hayes, Lewis; Humberstone, Heaney; List, Hunter, W. John, Challinor, Williams, Ram, Hills, Shaw. Replacements: Bergmanas, Nelson, Sproston, Nolan, Carpenter, Edgerley, Cusack.