Doncaster Knights 29 London Scottish 23: Knights stave off Exiles scare to claim victory
Doncaster Knights certainly don't make things easy for themselves.
For the third time this season in a league game at Castle Park, Knights were in danger of losing a game they eventually won (29-23).
Whereas this time last season Knights were brimming with confidence and teams arrived at Castle Park with more hope than expectation that is not the case at this moment in time, and a Scottish side beaten 62-12 last time out were the latest team to recognize that fact.
Knights were but a shadow of the side they were 12 months ago during the first half hour of a game during which time they often failed to do even the basics well - as highlighted by the fact that biggest cheer came from a successful lineout - and trailed 6-0.
Yet, Knights haven’t suddenly become a bad team overnight and they showed what they are capable of when they do find a bit of form in the final ten minutes of the half when scoring three converted tries to come in leading 21-6.
Industrious hooker Harry Allen helped atone for some poor work at the lineout when touching down for the club’s first try, and his second in successive games, from a driving maul.
Fly-half Declan Cusack, who had almost got man-of-the-match Mat Clark over seconds earlier, produced a touch of class when setting up debut try at Castle Park for full-back Sean Scanlon with a pin-point grubber-kick.
Knights have conceded several tries from interceptions this season, but centre Lloyd Hayes served to redress the balance when racing fully 80 metres to score a third converted try and give himself an early birthday present for this Friday.
Anyone expecting the floodgates to open in the second half were in for a huge disappointment as a change in tactics by the Exiles - who opted for a more expansive game-plan - and some poor defence, saw strapping left-wing Jason Harries score a quickly-taken hat trick.
The first came from a driving maul, the second from a well-timed pass by fly-half Harry Sheppard and the third following quick hands from a scrum in the Doncaster 22.
Even though full-back Peter Lydon could only convert one of the tries Scottish led 23-21 and with strong-running No 8 Ifereimi Boladau continuing to cause cause problems on his return to the game after a two-month lay-off, looked to have sufficient momentum to go on and win the game.
That they didn’t owed much to winger Tyson Lewis who touched down from another clever kick by Cusack kick to earn side the lead with a bonus point try. Cusack failed to add the extras but gave his side some extra breathing space with a late penalty.
Doncaster Knights: Scanlon, Jarvis, Hayes, Clark, Lewis, Cusack, Heaney; List, Allen, John, Challinor, Nolan, Williams, Robinson, Shaw. Replacements: Hislop, Hunter, Quigley, 19. Makaafi, Sproston, Flockhart, White
London Scottish: Lydon, Holland, Fergusson ,Kelly, Harries Sheppard, Stevenson; Shells, Cherry, McQuillin, Bartle, Patrick Miller, Atkinson, Boladau. Replacements:Fenton, Harris, Koroi McGeekie,Marley, Hoadley,Galbraith