Doncaster Knights 44 Rotherham Titans 0: ‘Pitch-perfect’ Knights record biggest ever win over derby rivals

Action from Doncaster Knights v Rotherham Titans - Saturday September 9th 2017. Doncaster Knights player Junior Bulumakau. Picture: Chris Etchells
Action from Doncaster Knights v Rotherham Titans - Saturday September 9th 2017. Doncaster Knights player Junior Bulumakau. Picture: Chris Etchells
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Doncaster Knights celebrated the official opening of their new £400,000 pitch in record-breaking style.

Knights posted six tries and kept a clean sheet when romping to a 44-0 win over local rivals Rotherham Titans – their biggest ever winning margin against their South Yorkshire rivals - in their Championship derby.

Even though Knights will face much tougher opposition than a new-look Rotherham side still finding their feet, this performance – and the one at Jersey – suggests that they will again be a force to be reckoned with this season.

While Knights will be aiming for a third successive top-four finish Titans would probably settle for a place outside the bottom four.

New director of rugby Andy Key clearly has his work cut out after seeing his new charges concede 90 points in their two opening games.

He didn’t look to make excuses in his post-match interview and accepts things must improve, as he hopes will prove to be the case as his players get to know each other better.

The New Zealander will have been encouraged that they played much better in the second half despite the game looking to be up at half-time with Knights leading 25-0.

But he knows that in addition to tightening up in defence they will also have to sharpen up in attack for they rarely troubled the Doncaster defence.

Knights were guilty of being slow out of the blocks at times last season but that wasn’t the case on Saturday as they raced into a 14-0 lead after just ten minutes.

Flanker Alex Shaw, who formed part of a dominant pack, touched down from close range following a 30 metre driving maul in the second minute.

Scrum-half Michael Heaney, who had been held just short prior to Shaw’s try, shot through a gap ten metres out to claim Doncaster’s second try.

Fly-half Simon Humberstone, whose half-back partnership with Heaney was one of the key aspects of Knights’ performance, again tagged on the extras.

If Doncaster supporters in the disappointing crowd expected the floodgates to open they were to be disappointed, though they will have been happy with the final outcome.

Despite camping in the Rotherham half for the bulk of the half Knights – well served by the five former Titans in their starting line-up - had to settle for an unconverted try by centre Andy Bulumakau and a brace of Humberstone penalties as the Titans dug deep.

Territorially, the second half was much more even and Titans occasionally proved a threat with the ball especially when scrum-half Rhodri Davies and strong-running wing Jake Henry were in possession.

But Knights’ extra class was always evident and they scored a further three unanswered tries.

The first came when Humberstone dummied his way over from close range on 45 minutes and the second came from the speedy Andy Bulumakua, who could easily have had a hat-trick, towards the end of the third quarter.

Younger brother Junior, who is looking a useful signing, wrapped things up with a try at the death.

Doncaster Knights: Foley, J Bulumakau, A Bulumakau, Owen, Lewis, Humberstone, Heaney; List, Hunter, Quigley, Challoner, Hicks, Shaw Hills, Carpenter. Replacements: Nelson, Bergmanas, Sprotson, Eames, Hill, James, Cusack

Rotherham Titans: Thomas, Henry, Peters, Barker, Cheshire Davies, Millar; Williams, Cole, Shields, Lasis, Hodge, Grange, Calladine, Boladua.Replacements: Murphy, Williams, Foster, Peters, Burns, Guimaraes, Loizias.