B&I Cup: Cross Keys 32 Doncaster Knights 37

Glen Kenworthy made his first start of the season at Cross Keys.
Glen Kenworthy made his first start of the season at Cross Keys.
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Doncaster Knights made a winning return to the B&I Cup with a bonus point victory in their opening Pool D game against Cross Keys at Pandy Park.

But the Championship club, who finished with 14 men, had to come from behind on several occasions to claim a 37-32 victory.

The home side, who had had to battle through a qualifying competition to claim one of the three places allocated to Welsh sides, were boosted by the inclusion of a number of Newport Gwent Dragons players.

Knights showed a number of changes from their narrow league defeat against Cornish Pirates, with five players including head coach Glen Kenworthy starting for the first time this season.

The heavy downpour just before the game left the pitch greasy but the home side made light of the conditions, which made handling difficult at times, to race into an early 10-0 lead.

Skipper Leon Andrews touched down in the third minute for a try goaled by Dorian Jones, who also tagged on a seventh-minute penalty.

It took Knights most of the first quarter to find their feet and it needed a handling mistake by the home side to help them open their account on 15 minutes.

Classy centre Mat Clark fly-kicked a loose ball and won the race to the line to score. Dougie Flockhart added the extras and also landed two penalties to edge the visitors into a 13-10 lead.

Their joy was short-lived, however, as Cross Keys’ winger Polu Uhi capitalised on some hesitant Doncaster play from the restart to race clear to score un unconverted try.

Knights regained the lead just before the break when No 8 Phil Eggleshaw celebrated his first start when driving over from close range near enough for Flockhart to convert.

The home side again started strongly and Barney Nightingale collected a neat chip to touch down for another converted try.

Jones gave his side more breathing space with a long-range penalty, but Flockhart reduced the deficit with a penalty leaving just two points separating the sides at the start of the final quarter.

Knights regained the lead with a converted 66th minute try by Michael Hills, and with the home side down to 14 men at the time, winger Andy Bulumakau crossed for a well-taken try three minutes later.

The Welsh club notched a late converted try, but Knights held out.