Knights fizzle out: Doncaster Knights 10 London Welsh 21

Doncaster Knights Rugby Union Football Club logo
Doncaster Knights Rugby Union Football Club logo

THE Knights were their own worst enemy as they failed to bang in a poor bonfire night contest with London Welsh at Castle Park.

Poor decision making and woeful defending at key moments proved Doncaster’s undoing in a match that appeared there for the taking at half time.

In fact, the Knights were much the better side in the first half and restricted the Exiles to only short periods of possession over the half way line.

A factor which proved the Knights’ undoing throughout the afternoon was poor kicking both in the choice and execution of.

In a bid to boost attendances, the Knights had offered free tickets to friends of those who had purchased one, a deal which helped push the attendance over 1,000.

And club officials will have been delighted with the way Brett Davey’s side started the contest.

It appeared Latu Makaafi had scored the first try of the match on six minutes after breaking through some poor Welsh defending.

Makaafi surged past the Welsh line on 40 metres then broke through a lacklustre challenge from Hudson Tonga’uiha to charge for the line only for referee Ross Campbell to adjudge the ball had been held up.

But the Knights refused to let up and did take the lead after displaying power in the scrums, with Campbell awarding the hosts a penalty try, converted by David McIlwaine.

The Exiles hit back two minutes later in their first foray into the opposition half despite being just two metres over the line with Alex Davies landing a brilliant long range penalty.

McIlwaine failed to match the feat on 18 minutes when his kick from a near identical spot went just wide of the posts.

The Knights looked to make their control of the play tell but missed a glorious chance midway through the half.

McIlwaine broke down the right wing and laid off to Tom Davies who made more yards.

The ball was then switched to the other wing with rapid pace with PJ Gidlow looking to provide the killer pass to Michael Keating who took his eye off the ball and fumbled two metres from the line.

Makaafi was sinbinned on 25 minutes after the Knights were penalised on their own 22 and Davies slotted over the kick.

The sides were levelled up three minutes later when Joe Ajuwa was yellow carded for jumping into McIlwaine who was attempting to claim a high kick.

McIlwaine ensured a four point margin for the Knights going into the break when he slotted over a penalty superbly from 40 metres but scuffed another opportunity in the dying seconds.

The Knights struggled to regain their attacking presence after the break until it was too late as defensive frailty cost them dear.

One such moment handed the Exiles their first try on 54 minutes.

The ball went loose from Knights possession and Simon Whatling was first to react, dribbling the ball along the floor before grounding just before the dead ball line, Davies landing the conversion.

Gordon Ross increased the Exiles’ lead on 63 minutes with a successful penalty after the Knights were penalised for collapsing the scrum.

More poor defending from the Knights took the match out of their reach with 11 minutes to go.

Rob Lewis broke through a poor tackling following a line out and found Edd Thrower who ignored the obvious pass out to Ajuwa and touched down, Ross failing with the conversion.

The Knights piled on the pressure and spent the majority of the last five minutes plus a lengthy added time spell camped inside five metres of the Welsh line.

Penalty after penalty followed with James Tideswell and Shawn Pittman both shown yellow cards for the visitors.

But the Knights could not find the line and eventually the Exiles found touch to seal the win.

Knights: McIlwaine, Flockhart, Goss, Gidlow, Keating (Bateman, 62), Luke, Hallam, Davies (Brown, 71), Boden (Yeandle, 60), Brown, Challinor, Kenworthy (Parsons, 68), Makaafi, Farivarz (Boyde, 71), Planchant (Noone, 60).

Subs not used: Audis.

Welsh: Thrower, Ajuwa, Tonga’uiha, Whatling (Jewell, 78), Lewis (Stevenson, 75), Davies (Ross, 54), Lewis, Pittman, Nelson (Ma’asi, 50), Moss (Tideswell, 66), Brown, Purdy, Beech, Denbee, Jackson.

Subs not used: Corker, Russell.

Attendance: 1,042.