London Welsh 37 Doncaster Knights 14
TWENTY one matches gone, one to go and Doncaster Knights are limping to the finish line.
Brett Davey’s men suffered a third consecutive Championship defeat on the spin in their twice rearranged match at Old Deer Park yesterday.
London Welsh ran in five tries, four of which came in the second half, to move up to fourth in the table, a victory which sealed their place in the play-offs.
Defeat leaves Davey with a big job on his hands to try and lift his players for the trip to league leaders Bristol tomorrow.
Knights, who made five changes from the side who narrowly lost to Rotherham Titans last Saturday, battled throughout and were just 13-7 behind at half-time.
But two minutes after the re-start, scrum-half Jack Moates crossed for an outstanding solo try, leaving several Knights tacklers in his wake as he burst through to score from 60 metres to swing the contest dramatically in Welsh’s favour.
It was Welsh who dominated the early skirmishes, with Joe Ajuwa threatening down the right wing before ultimately being forced into touch. Knights struggled to get out of their own 22 and Moates sent over Martin Purdy for the opener after referee Terry Hall had played a good advantage.Alex Davies added the extras.
Despite flanker Latu Makaafi’s promptings, Knights remained on the back foot and Davies converted two penalties to extend the hosts advantage to 13-0.
Refusing to panic, Davey’s troops re-grouped and reduced their arrears following their first visit to the Welsh 22. Michael Heaney and Dougie Flockhart combined well on the counter attack and with Welsh in disarray, a huge overlap on the left was exploited by Oli Goss, who ghosted over. Flockhart converted to give Knights a glimmer of hope.
However, Knights never fully recovered from Moates’ early try in the second period as Welsh took control of proceedings. Edd Thrower grabbed Welsh’s third try after neat build up play involving Simon Whatling, on his return to the side after a lengthy spell on the sidelines, Davies and Vili Ma’asi.
It got even worse for the visitors when Paul Mackey – another returning to the side from injury – barged over under the posts with his first touch after coming on, Davies converted and Welsh led 32-7.
But Knights kept plugging away and were rewarded with a penalty try, which Flockhart converted, after Welsh collapsed a driving maul just metres short of their own line.
Their joy was short-lived though when Mackey’s break ended in a scrum beneath the Doncaster posts, from which Seb Jewell and Mackey worked it beautifully to send to send Ajuwa over in the corner for his ninth try of the campaign.
KNIGHTS: Toft, Flockhart, Goss, Burdon, Keating, Quin-McDonogh, Heaney, Davies, Boden, Brown, Kenworthy, Parsons, Makaafi, Bradford, Noone.