Doncaster Knights 26 Nottingham 12: Ten games unbeaten for Knights

Doncaster Knights ended the year on a high as they extended their unbeaten run to ten games with a 26-12 Boxing Day win over Nottingham at Castle Park.
Knights' Latu Makaafi breaks free from the the Nottingham defence. 
Picture Dean AtkinsKnights' Latu Makaafi breaks free from the the Nottingham defence. 
Picture Dean Atkins
Knights' Latu Makaafi breaks free from the the Nottingham defence. Picture Dean Atkins

It was their first home league win over the Green and Whites for over five years and their first double over the fifth-placed club since the Championship was launched in the 2010-11 season.

The only disappointment for the biggest crowd of the season was that Knights missed out on a bonus point which would have seen them take over top spot from Bristol.

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Although Knights were good value for their win they rarely looked like scoring the four tries needed to claim a bonus point and had to rely on the boot of Dougie Flockhart for their 12-5 interval lead.

The only try of the half came from Nottingham wing Pila Longi on 12 minutes.

He squeezed in at the corner following pressure from a scrum brought about by a mix-up in the Doncaster ranks from the restart following the first of Flockhart’s successful kicks.

The game might not have been the Christmas cracker fans had been hoping for in the first half but things got better after the break.

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Despite playing into the wind, Knights camped in the Nottingham half for most of the third quarter and opened up a 19-5 lead on 55 minutes when wing Tyson Lewis rewarded a fine break by centre Mat Clark on the opposite flank, and some subsequent impressive handling, by going past several defenders to score a converted try in the corner.

No sooner had Nottingham seen Ben Morris, playing out of position in the second-row due to injuries, sin-binned than Knights effectively killed the game off with a try from a driving maul by Ollie Stedman.

The visitors snatched a second try through centre Ben Woods on 66 minutes, who touched down from close range after Knights had successfully repelled several earlier chances, but they never looked like claiming a third successive league win.

“I know we missed out on a bonus point, but that’s nine points we’ve taken off Nottingham in two games this season,” said director of rugby Clive Griffiths.

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“I’d have settled for that scoreline at the start of the day and I felt it was a controlled performance. We focused on our defence, Dougie (Flockhart) kicked well and we took our chances when they came.

“We spoke at half-time about doing a few things better in the second half, and also getting off to a good start, and we did that. But it was never going to be easy because Nottingham are a good side and well coached.”

Doncaster Knights: Jarvis, Flockhart, Clark, Hurrell, Lewis, Cusack, Heaney;List, Hunter, Quigley, Challinor, Phelan, Makaafi,, Hills, Shaw. Rep: Viekoso, Stedman, John, Hotson, Humberstone, Bulumakau, Edgerley.

Nottingham: Robinson, Murray, Woods, Stevens, Longi, Mugford, Veenendaal; Davies, Singleton, Carey, Morris, Green, Cooper, Everard, Grant. Rep: Broberg, Morley, Heard, Kitchener, Langley, McConnell, Rayner.

Attendance: 2,921.