Derby win puts Knights on brink of semi-finals

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DONCASTER Knights are just 80 minutes away from a place in the semi-finals of the Championship Promotion Play-offs.

They climbed into second spot in Pool B with a 42-20 win over Rotherham Titans on Saturday coupled with Bedford’s 33-21 defeat at runaway leaders Cornish Pirates yesterday.

Knights, who are three points clear of Bedford, entertain Pirates, who they have never beaten at home, at Castle Park on Saturday. The Blues play host to Titans.

“It will be a tough game but our destiny lies in our own hands and that is all that you can ask going into your last pool game,” said Knights’ boss Lynn Howells last night,

Knights knew that they had to beat Titans at Clifton Lane and hope that Pirates would sink Bedford the following day if they were to leapfrog the Blues, who had finished runners-up to Worcester in the Championship table.

They did so but had to come from behind at half-time to claim their fourth win over their South Yorkshire rivals in five games this season.

“We started the game looking like a team under a lot of pressure to get a result,” said Howells, whose side were without their regular second-row pairing through injury and prop Michael Cusack (shingles).

They also made a late decision not to play scrum-half Nathan Jones, who had taken a bang to the head in the win at Bedford, drafting in Leeds’ dual-registered Craig Hammond.

“The young lad did very well for us,”said Howells. “It was difficult for him because he was up against Joe Bedford, who I think is the second-best scrum-half in the league.

Knights could be sweating on the fitness of hooker Steve Boden and Neil Cochrane, who both picked up knocks.

They also had to replace fellow flanker Latu Makaafi, who felt unwell, at half-time.