Knights fail to cash in on territorial advantage

Doncaster Knights 23 Pontypridd 35

DONCASTER Knights will not have to spend too much time this week working out how they lost this British & Irish Cup Pool D group game at Castle Park.

They dominated the scrums throughout, ruled the lineout's through young lock Dom Parsons, and looked to be well on top as the game approached half time.

However, they will only have to look at their inability to penetrate the visitors defence, despite all their territorial advantage in the first half, and a porous defence once Pontypridd overcame their early lack of possession.

For their third B & I Cup game, Knights' rotated his small squad from the side that had won at Llandovery the previous weekend.

Dougie Flockhart came in at full-for injued Steve McColl, with Matt Williams returning on the wing. Leeds' half-back Craig Hampson, came in for Nathan Jones at scrum-half.

In the pack, Dan Frazier and Steve Boden came in for Stuart Corsar and Steve Lawrie at prop and hooker respectively. Parsons played at lock in place of James Craig, recalled by Leeds for a week,

Chris Walker played at flanker in place of Jacob Rowan and Latu Makaafi started in the back row in place of Zack Farivarz.

Knights went into the lead after seven minutes through a penalty by fly half Tristan Roberts.

Simon Humberstone equalised butKnights then pinned Pontypridd deep in their own 22 for almost 15 minutes.

A lack of penetration and poor refereeing as the Knights attempted a series of pushover tries, meant they failed to turn pressure into points until the 25th minute when PJ Gidlow crashed over from close in for a try that Roberts converted.

Roberts extended the lead with another penalty but Pontypridd entered the Knights 22 for just about the first time in the match. The ball was moved to the left where wing Owen Williams evaded three tackles to score in the corner with the last play of the half.

Turning around 13-8 ahead, Knights put themselves under pressure when Gidlow was yellow carded for dangerous play after only 42 minutes.

Pontypridd hit the Knights straight away. They won a five-metre lineout and replacement hooker Kristian Dacey crashed over after the initial drive had been repulsed. Humberstone converted to put the visitors into a four- point lead reduced shortly afterwards through a Roberts penalty.

With the Knights back at full strength, it was Pontypridd who suffered when Dacey was yellow carded for foul play and Doncaster took advantage of their numerical superiority when winger Andy Wright pounced on a delicate grubber kick by Roberts, who added the conversion from close to touch.

Almost from the restart, however, Pontypridd made light of Dacey's absence as firstly centre Dafydd Lockyer broke through two poor attempted tackle and then, from the resultant ruck 15 metres out, scrum-half Lewis Jones dummied before evading more poor defence to race over.

Humberstone's conversion put Pontypridd ahead and, shortly afterwards, he kicked a penalty when Lockhart was yellow carded for a technical offence.

Another Humberstone penalty after 64 minutes put Pontypridd seven points clear.

Knights,took the game back at the visitors but were unable to penetrate their resolute defence again,

Pontypridd mounted one last attack and, after they had been stopped just short, centre Lockyer crashed through yet another poor tackle to score from five metres out.

Humberstone's conversion took his side into a 12 points lead and it was game over.

After the game talisman lock Glen Kenworthy apologised to the Knights fans for the team's performance and stressed the importance to the squad of next Saturday's Championship match at home to Plymouth as both sides sort to secure their places in the Championship promotion play-offs.

Doncaster Knights: Flockhart, Wright, Devlin (Briers 62), Gidlow, Williams, Roberts, Hampson, Frazier (Corsar 46), Boden (Doughty 79), Cusack (Thiede 77), Kenworthy, Parsons, Challinor, Makaafi (Cochrane 55), Walker (Farivarz 62) Replacement not used: McColl.

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