Doncaster Knights’ Championship campaign ends on a losing note as they go down 46-19 to Cornish Pirates
Fifth-placed Cornish Pirates scuppered Doncaster Knights’ hopes of ending their Championship campaign on a winning note when posting a 46-19 win at Castle Park.
The club’s biggest home defeat of the season left languishing in the bottom three – their lowest finish since being promoted back to the Championship- and underlined the rebuilding job, some of which has already started, needed ahead of next season.
The game marked the departure of three of the stalwarts of the club’s glory years and their remaining teammates were desperate to give them a winning send off but their hopes were realistically sunk by the break as Pirates sailed to a 31-7 lead.
Knights got off to the perfect start when good work by half-backs Tom James and Kurt Morath resulted in wing Curtis Wilson touching down from the latter’s long pass.
Morath added the extras to give his side an early 7-0 lead.
Pirates, who have a good record at Castle Park over the years, opened their account on ten minutes when wing Robin Wedlake got on the end of a neat grubber kick.
Centre Mat Clark, one of three players leaving, limped off before play restarted with a calf injury, receiving a standing ovation from the supporters in the main stand.
Knights looked to have scored a second try on16 minutes from a close-range a driving maul but the pass to skipper Michael Hills was ruled forward.
Knights suffered a second injury blow on 20 minutes when losing strong-running No 8 Rory Pitman.
They then produced arguably their worst second quarter display of the season conceding four further tries – though the latter should have been disallowed for a blatant forward pass.
Knights’ hopes suffered another blow when scrum-half Tom James limped off within five minutes of the restart after making a 30m midfield break.
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Departing prop Richard List also received a standing ovation when he was replaced by Robin Hislop a minute later.
Knights cut the gap with the try of the game started and finished by full-back Cameron Cowell.
Cowell spotted a gap inside his own 22 before finding speedy wing Curtis Wilson who ran 60m down the touchline prior to finding the former Newcastle man on his inside.
Morath tagged on the conversion to make it 31-14.
Wilson needed treatment and was eventually replaced on 54 minutes - flanker Sam Jones, who did well in the unaccustomed role, switching from the pack to cover.
Knights started to exert some sustained pressure towards the hour mark and hooker Ben Hunter touched down from close range.
Morarth’s conversion came back off the far post but Knights still entertained outside hopes.
Pirates hadn’t threatened to score until going close in the 64th minute, increased their lead with a Cargill penalty two minutes later.
If Knights had edged the third quarter Pirates bossed the last and added two further tries – the last at the death when their hosts were down to 14 men.
Knights: Cowell, Wilson, Roberts, Clark, Jarvis,Morath, James; List, Hunter, Quigley,Challoner, Civetta, Burrows,Hills, Pitman. Rep: Malcolm, Hislop, Sproston, Hicks,Jones, Polataivao, Hayes.