Doncaster Knights 14
KNIGHTS boss Clive Griffiths got the improvement he demanded but it could not prevent his side from exiting the British and Irish Cup with defeat to Nottingham.
After a lacklustre first half Knights played some of their best rugby of the season to push close a near first choice Nottingham side with clear designs on winning the competition.
Seeing his side flexing its attacking muscle will have mattered more to Griffiths than the final result with the battle against relegation from the Championship beginning in earnest in a fortnight.
Returning full back Michael Keating was the inspiration in the second half while new signing Joe Bedford looks set to become a key player. Griffiths will not have been pleased with his side’s first half show with ill-discipline and errors proving costly.
Nottingham piled on the pressure andJames Arlidge put them ahead with a pair of penalties inside the first 13 minutes. It took Doncaster15 minutes to advance into opposition territory but poor line outs ensured their foray would not last long. Dougie Flockhart hit the post with his penalty attempt to get Doncaster off the mark.
Knights struggled for any sort of rhythm and were punished on 35 minutes when Nottingham grabbed their first try. Alex Lewington sent a smart kick forward sparking a foot race between Tim Streather and Knights winger Tyson Lewis. Neither player claimed allowing Jack Cobden in to dot down.
Props Tom Davies and Michael Holford saw yellow after their part in a large melee seconds before the break.
Knights started the second half with intent and really should have scored their first try in a fantastic break from Keating. The full back broke to within a couple of metres of the line but he sent his pass behind the supporting Flockhart.
The Knights dominated possession and territory but they could not craft scoring opportunities. And a mistake allowed Nottingham to cement their lead eight minutes from time with David Jackson breaking down the wing to score in the corner.
Jamie Lennard intercepted on half way and broke clear before passing inside to Chris Hallam who scored in his first act after coming off the bench. Lennard converted.
With the gap reduced to nine, the Knights pressed on in a thrilling finale. They broke through Flockhart and Bedford before skipper Matt Challinor found Davies to score with Lennard converting.
But time ran out on the Knights’ fightback and their B&I Cup hopes.
Knights: Keating (Lennard, 65), Flockhart, Simpson, Symons (Luke, 53), Lewis, Braid (Hallam, 77), Bedford, Davies, Hafu (Bergmanus, 49), Francis (McGovern, 65), Challinor, Parsons (Cadman, 70), Pailor, Rawling (Bradford, 57), Planchant.