Match report: Doncaster Knights 21 Nottingham 27

Doncaster Knights
Doncaster Knights

QUITE literally, Doncaster Knights are not about to go down without a fight.

Two second half scraps, first involving Knights skipper Matt Challinor and then Rhys Buckley, were flashpoints in a typically gritty, attritional Championship encounter.

A spirited Doncaster battled gamely against a Nottingham side who are emerging as serious rivals to runaway leaders Newcastle Falcons in the race for the Premiership.

But just as they did against Rotherham last time out at Castle Park, Knights conceded tries in quick succession to hand the initiative to the visitors.

In a game which portrayed Doncaster’s sorry season, Knights lacked nothing in desire and fighting spirit.

But they were always chasing the game and came up short in terms of their execution, and they were made to pay for their shortcomings by a clinical Nottingham outfit.

As expected, with their Championship status dangling by a thread, Knights burst out of the blocks and looked to get in their opposition’s faces from the outset.

That enthusiasm spilled over in the second half when Challinor and then Buckley became embroiled in large-scale brawls.

Doncaster arguably had the better of the opening half hour but found themselves 18-9 down at the break.

And there was also an element of deja vu from a Doncaster perspective as Andy Savage’s score, when he rounded off a fine flowing move, was followed just two minutes later by a try from Andrew Forsyth, who ran onto his own kick and held off Will Sharp to touch down.

Jamie Lennard kicked three first half penalties to keep his side in contention.

The hosts then had a real sniff of a comeback when Dante Mama collected Tom Luke’s neat pass to break the line and score inside the first two minutes of the second period.

Adam Kettle came up with a try saving tackle at the other end as the Knights continued to put their bodies on the line for the cause.

But as the reliable James Arlidge added to his two first half penalties by kicking another six points, the game ebbed away from a Doncaster side running out of ideas in attacking areas.

An all too rare moment of incisive passing allowed rugby league convert Will Sharp to score his first Championship try in the 78th minute to set up a grandstand finish, and earn Doncaster a potentially crucial losing bonus point.

But an injury time penalty from man of the match Arlidge killed off Knights hopes.

*Doncaster: Braid, Keating, Mama, Luke, Sharp, Lennard, Bedford, Brown, Buckley, Francis, Challinor, Parsons, Kettle, Hafu, Planchant. Replacements: Sowery, McGovern, Cronin, Boyde, Hallam, Lewis, Flockhart.

*Nottingham: Savage, Lewington, Streather, Forsyth, Jackson, Arlidge, Romans, Parr, Malton, Holford, Montagu, Rouse, Cooper, Wilson, Shaw. Replacements: Duffey, Bower, Quinn, Calladine, Barnham, Lynn, Cobden.

*Attendance: 1,319