Optimism for Doncaster Knights boss Brett Davey

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DONCASTER Knights will begin preparations for their first Championship derby of the season today buoyed by a battling performance against Cornish Pirates at Castle Park on Friday night.

Knights, who take on Leeds at Headingley on Friday, had looked set for their first win of the season, and their first since the start of the year, until Pirates secured a draw, levelling the scores at 18-18 with a long-range penalty in stoppage time.

“It was disappointing not to win but I couldn’t fault the players for effort,” said Knights boss Brett Davey. “They showed a lot of character and it was probably our best performance of the season over the 80 minutes.

“But there is still room for improvement and we’ll be working on one or two things that we need to do better.

“We struggled with our set pieces for most of the game, and we have to work on that aspect of our game. So to get a draw - and to be only two minutes away from winning - wasn’t bad against Pirates.

“We also have to learn to win games when we find ourselves in a similar situation to Friday night, but I thought our players were excellent and there were a lot of really good performances.

“We were dominant for long periods of the second half and their two tries both came from rare excursions into our half.

“We worked hard and defended well and when we did have a bit of ball we showed we can play and in addition to scoring the tries we probably bombed another couple.

“The back-row, in particular, played well. Dante Mama played well for us in open play in his first game for us at full-back.

“He showed a lot of good things and I was impressed with his all-round play. He looked dangerous with the ball, defended well and kicked quite well. James Tincknall also showed up well in the centre.”