Knights looking to seal play off spot in derby clash

THE KNIGHTS can virtually guarantee their place in the promotion play-off if they can return from the derby match with Rotherham this weekend with a win.

Victory over Plymouth Albion last weekend ensured a decent safety cushion heading into the derby at Clifton Lane against a Titans side who are still waiting to secure their own Championship future.

Doncaster may have led from the first minute and ran out 27-16 winners over Plymouth but their victory was by no means clean cut.

Plymouth were left wondering how they did not come away with at least a bonus point after long periods in contention.

Victory was important for both sides with each still facing the real possibility of being embroiled in the relegation play offs.

But the win for Doncaster took them 11 points clear of the final place, currently occupied by Bristol who have the same number of points as Plymouth.

Boss Lynn Howells – whose replacement at the end of the season was announced last week as current assistant Brett Davey reverted to the tried and tested league side after giving squad players a run out in the recent British and Irish Cup fixtures.

The influential Steve McColl returned at full–back with Dougie Flockhart back on the right wing and scrum half Nathan Jones reclaiming his spot after injury.

Skipper Steve Lawrie was back at hooker with Stuart Corsar replacing injured prop Dan Frazier and Ed Jackson and Neil Cochrane completing their return from injuries.

Tristan Roberts – man of the match at fly-half – kicked Doncaster ahead with an early penalty goal.

Just two minutes later he ran in his seventh try of the season when Plymouth failed to clear his attacking chip ahead.

He gathered the loose ball and dived over for a try which he also converted to put the Knights 10 points clear with less than five minutes gone.

But Plymouth were quick to counter, and some poor defence by the home side let the visitors’ flanker Rory Watts-Jones through for a try which fly-half Alex Davies converted.

Good defence by both sides held sway for the remainder of the first half with Roberts and Davies kicking two penalty goals each to leave Doncaster with a slender 16-13 interval lead.

Plymouth fed on Doncaster’s mistakes in the early stages of the second half and eventually levelled the score on 53 minutes when Davies kicked another penalty for an offence at a ruck which resulted in Doncaster centre PJ Gidlow being sent to the sin bin.

The Knights kept their lines intact during the 10 minutes with a man short and Gidlow was then replaced at centre by Andy Wright who put the home side back on the offensive with an 80-metre run through the Plymouth defence.

Roberts then eased Doncaster back in front with a penalty shot and they extended their lead when Wright crashed over for a final try.

Roberts missed the conversion but then sealed the win with a fifth penalty goal from in front of the posts with the last kick of the match.

The clash with Rotherham at Clifton Lane kicks off at 2pm on Saturday.