Doncaster Knights 32 Loughborough Students 3: Hat trick hero Clark shines as Knights ease to top-of-the-table victory

Knights' Mat Clark, left, celebratesone of his three tries against Loughborough with Bevon Armitage. Picture: Andrew Roe
Knights' Mat Clark, left, celebratesone of his three tries against Loughborough with Bevon Armitage. Picture: Andrew Roe

The Knights are well on their way to the first class return they crave after passing their toughest examination to date with flying colours.

Loughborough Students arrived in second place after five wins from six games.

But they left very much second best after being reduced to a single penalty score as the Knights delivered a major statement to the rest of National One.

It seems that only the Knights themselves could stop a march back to the Championship . . . or perhaps the injury gods after two more bodies were added to the injury list.

Phil Eggleshaw badly damaged his shoulder and Tyson Lewis suffered a knee ligament strain. The setbacks only added frustation to a pleasing afternoon.

A hat trick of tries from the fleet-of-foot Mat Clark was the highlight of a seventh straight bonus point win from Knights, the centre building on the opening score from Michael Walker-Fitton.

The performance was olid from Clive Griffiths’ men in front of an impressive crowd at Castle Park.

For long periods they did all the right things, though there will have been some frustration from being on the back foot for a good stretch of the second half.

In the opening 40 minutes, they controlled possession and territory and made the pressure count.

A pair of early penalties from Paul Roberts formed the platform but the first real blow came in the middle stages of the half.

Glen Bryce broke after collecting a kick, sparking an excellent phase capped with Walker-Fitton powering over, Roberts adding the extras.

Loughborough were reduced to one attack in the first half, from which they scored their only points from a George Eastwell penalty.

The hosts extended their lead with a score either side of the break, both coming from brilliant runs from Clark.

He snaked his way through the Loughborough defence and then capped a fine break, started by Paul Jarvis, both converted by Roberts.

Henry Taylor wasted Loughborough’s best chance as he dropped the ball a yard from the line after a good run but Loughborough pressure looked to be telling as multiple penalties led to Bruno Bravo’s sin binning but the Students could not make the advantage count.

Just when it seemed the bonus point would evade Knights for the first time this season, Clark landed it.He took possession inside his own half and did not stop until he reached the line, securing his hat trick and an eye-catching win for his side.

Knights: Bryce, Jarvis, Clark, Armitage, Lewis (Munro 73), Roberts (E Davies 78), Bravo, Cosgrove, Santamaria (Hunter 71), Phillips (Pasquali 54), Challinor, Walker-Fitton, Kettle, Hills, Eggleshaw (Kenworthy 62).

Attendance: 1,104.