No reason for O’Driscoll to celebrate

Doncaster Knights' Director of Rugby Lynn Howells.
Doncaster Knights' Director of Rugby Lynn Howells.
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SATURDAY: DONCASTER Rovers’ Championship clash Hull City at the KC Stadium marked Sean O’Driscoll’s 500th league match in charge.

O’Driscoll, who was previously in charge at Bournemouth, didn’t have much to celebrate, however, after seeing Rovers crash to a 3-1 defeat against the promotion-chasing Tigers and was unusually critical of his side in various post-match interviews. Perhaps the pressure is starting to get to him.

Doncaster Knights went down fighting in their failed attempt to make the Championship Promotion play-off semi-finals.

Needing to win to be sure of holding on to second spot in Pool B behind visiting Cornish Pirates, Knights lost 27-24 at Castle Park.

“We had the chance to win the game right at the end but we couldn’t take it - that’s how close it was,” said Knights’ boss Lynn Howells, after his last game in charge.

“We had other chances to win the game but we blew it. We let them off the hook. I think the occasion, and what was at stake, got to one or two of the boys. But saying that we did enough to win it.”

“They were very strong around the ruck and the contact area and without one or two of our heavier boys due to injury, we weren’t able to compete with them in that part of the game and we were out-muscled up front which is something which rarely happens to Doncaster

“We couldn’t get the ball out quickly enough and really struggled to recycle it and that affected our ability to get the ball out wide in those areas of the game.”

Pirates’ victory saw them retain their unbeaten record at Castle Park.

Howells praised the way that the above-average Castle Park crowd got behind the team.

“It would have been nice to have rewarded their support by getting through to the last-four, but at least they saw a fabulous game of rugby,” said the Welshman.

“I’m also pleased for everyone connected with the club that despite being tipped as possible relegation candidates after making massive cutbacks last summer, that we went so close to making the semi-finals and who knows what might have happened had we done so?

SUNDAY: THE Dons suffered a second successive Championship One defeat against Whitehaven at the Recreation Ground.

But a late try by second-rower Craig Robinson ensured the Dons, who lost 26-16, a losing bonus point.

“We kept going until the end and Craig’s try was our reward,” said Dons boss Tony Miller.

“Obviously we wanted to win the game and I don’t think that there was much between the teams on the day. Overall I was relatively pleased with our performance.

“One of the goals we set ourselves at the start of the season was that if we lost a game then at least try and come away with a bonus point so it was pleasing that we did today.

“It’s never easy coming up to Cumbria. Whitehaven are a special side up here and hard to beat. We missed (stand-off) Chris Fawcett (holiday) a little bit and we were disrupted when we lost Mike Coady early on with a shoulder injury.”