Doncaster Knights 27 Bedford Blues 20: Knights return to winning ways
Doncaster Knights got back on track in the Championship following three successive defeats with a confidence-boosting 27-20 win over fourth-placed Bedford Blues at windswept Castle Park
It was easily their best home win in the league at Castle Park this season – not that there have been many – and all the more notable given that they lacked Nick Civetta, Ollie Stedman, Colin Quigley and Rory Pitman in the forwards.
Despite that it was the forwards – who all played their part – who laid the foundations for victory and claimed two of the three tries.
The first came on six minutes when centre Charlie Foley timed his pass to perfection to send second-rower Tom Hicks charging in from 15 metres out.
The two sides traded penalty goals prior to Bedford levelling the scores at 10-all.
Foley, who more than made up for the mistake, gifted Bedford seven points when his pass was intercepted by centre Ed Coulson. He ran over 60 metres to score a try converted by fly-half Jake Sharp.
Coulson, co-centre Matt Worley and wing Pat Tapley all proved a handful for the Doncaster defence particularly in the first half.
Coulson crossed from much closer range following good work by the Bedford pack to make it 15-10.
Knights regained the lead with arguably the try of the match.
Long-serving centre Mat Clark, who deservedly kept his place in the side after making an impressive return at Jersey following a spell out of favour, set it up.
He made a strong burst down the middle before handing on to leading try-scorer Tom James - the former Bedford scrum-half wrong-footing the last line of defence and racing in to score.
Flockhart again added the extras to give Knights a 17-15 lead at the end of an entertaining first half.
The way that the Knights’ forwards started the second half must have delighted forwards’ coach Glen Kenworthy, and their early pressure paid off when prop Joe Sproston touched down from a driving maul.
Flockhart has kicked many difficult goals during his long career but the resulting conversion could well rank among the best given the circumstances.
Whereas Knights had looked to play an expansive game in the first half they played it tighter in the second.
Although not as pleasing on the eye it was possibly the best tactics in view of the wind.
Influential fly-half Sam Olver made a potential try-saving tackle on Worley after he had broken from inside his own half prior to Flockhart extending Doncaster’s lead with a 72nd minute penalty to leave Bedford needing two converted tries to claim the spoils.
No-one at Castle Park doubted their ability to do just that and nerves started to jangle when replacement Harry Sheppard touched down from close range.
They would likely have been in again but for a vital tackle by Foley on wing Dean Adamson in the closing stages.
Knights: Jarvis, Flockhart, Clark, Foley, Wilson, Olver, James; Hislop, Hunter, Sproston, Challinor, Hicks, Ryan, Hills,Tyrell. Replacements: Mayhew, Beech, List, Eames, Jones, Polataivao, Cowell.