London Welsh 14 Doncaster Knights 10: Second half rally fails to save Knights
Doncaster Knights had to settle for a losing bonus point on their return to Championship action against London Welsh at Old Deer Park.
The Exiles extended their winning run over the Castle Park side to 12 games with a hard-fought 14-10 victory.
But Knights didn’t go down without a fight and they came close to repeating their 2009-10 success on the same ground during a strong finish.
Unfortunately they couldn’t turn all their pressure into points during a much-improved second half and suffered a third away defeat in four Championship games despite scoring two tries to one.
Knights welcomed back influential second-rower Matt Challoner after injury, but lacked flanker Beau Robinson who suffered a training injury on Thursday.
Knights produced a patchy first half performance and trailed 11-0 at the break.
Fly-half Joe Carlisle kicked the Exiles into the lead with his opposite number Declan Cusack, in the absence of the injured Dougie Flockhart, failing with a chance to level.
Carlisle hit the post with another penalty at the end of the first quarter but a wild pass by full-back Paul Jarvis – as he looked to turn defence into attack from the rebound - almost presented the hosts with a try.
Welsh did extend their lead, however, when centre Kristian Phillips regathered his own chip to score out wide after Knights, who again defended well, had failed to hold their defensive line,
Carlisle failed to convert but made amends with a second penalty on the stroke of half-time as Welsh finished the half on top.
After the restart it was Knights who drew first blood – hooker Harry Allen scoring against his former club from a driving maul.
Welsh increased their lead to 14-5 with a Carlisle penalty following the sin-binning of skipper Richard List on 55 minutes.
Carlisle had the chance to make it 17-5 prior to team-mate Ben Pienaar being sin-binned on 69 minutes.
Knights wasted no time in capitalising on their extra man and centre Lloyd Hayes capped a useful display with a 70th minute try to set up a tense finish with the result in the balance until the final whistle.
London Welsh: Thomas, Phillips,Stevens, Jewell, Mantella; Carlisle, Glynn; Marfo, Kwasnicki, Cooper, Woolford, Maddison, Pienaar, Hodson,Carpenter. Rep: Britton,Hallam, Chawatama, Liston, Lewis, Hughes,Lewis.
Knights: Jarvis, 14, Bulumakau, Hayes, Clark, Lewis; Cusack, Heaney; List, Allen, John, Challinor, Nolan,Young, Owen, Shaw. Rep: Hislop, Hunter, Quigley, Makaafi, Williams, Scanlon, White.