Knights 24 v Wharfedale 17: DONCASTER Knights retained their grip on the Yorkshire Cup by beating Wharfedale 24-17 in last night's final at Harrogate.
Two late tries secured victory for the holders but the National League Two side, who had scored three well-worked tries in the first half, gave them a run for their money.
Knights director of rugby, Lynn Howells, kept faith with the bulk of the team who had got the club to the final which meant that approximately one third of his regular starting line-up figured.
Although the torrential pre-match rain had stopped when the match kicked off, the conditions underfoot were difficult for both sides and it was fairly obvious that the side that played the conditions best would win.
Wharfedale went ahead after only five minutes when they drove the bigger Knights pack over from a five-metre line-out and their veteran lock Dave Lister scored a try which fly half Andy Baggett converted.
The Knights came back through their backs and they had chances to score but they either lost the ball or, more often, fell foul of the referee. Wharfedale went further ahead after 16 minutes when they broke down the right flank from inside their own half an sucked in Knights' defence to allow scrum-half James Doherty the chance to galloped over for an unconverted try.
Almost immediately Wharfedale scored again. Ttheir backs broke through a big hole in the Knights midfield defence and right winger Mark Bedworth raced over for another unconverted try.
Knights should have scored from the restart but flanker Andy Wilson died with the ball rather than passing to the supporting runners after making a 30 metre break in the Wharfedale half.
Wilson was injured and was replaced by lock Luke Gross with Bryn Griffiths moving into the back-row.
The Knights now elected to play the game through their pack and the build on the scrummaging dominance they had already obtained.
They were awarded a scrum five metres out in front of the Wharfedale posts from which the Dalesmen were penalised as they were driven backwards.
After two more similar penalties the referee lost patience and awarded the Knights a penalty try that was converted by fly half Cerith Rees to bring the half to a close.
Doncaster's second half tactics were simple - keep it in the pack and kick for position.
After only five minutes after the restart.
Howells elected for more pace in the back-row and he moved centre Tom Luke to flanker in place of Ollie Cook with Wes Davies coming on in the centre.
The ploy had an immediate effect when Knights gained a line-out five metres out following a penalty and their pack drove over for an unconverted try by Luke.
Simple rugby and patience was the order of the day and the Knights camped on the Wharfedale line and could have scored from a number of pushover attempts but the Dalesmen's defence held out.
It took Wharfedale almost 25 minutes to get into Knights half, but they almost put the game beyond Doncaster's reach when winger Mark Bedworth was stopped just short after catching a clever diagonal kick by Baggett.
From this effort Wharfedale were penalised and they were immediately pinned back into their half by the powerful Doncaster pack.
Knights' third try came after 74 minutes when, following yet another drive for the line, Griffiths drove over from close in and Rees converted with an excellent kick from wide out to put his side in front for the first time.
From the kick-off the spirited Wharfedale side attacked Knights but they were thwarted by excellent defence. As the game went into injury time, the Knights gained another five metre line-out from a penalty and their trade mark catch-and-drive worked well and replacement hooker Scott Plevey was credited with the try as the pack drove over.
Doncaster Knights: Carter, Bailey, Davey, Luke, Van Vuuren, Rees, Storey (Scully 70), Toke (List 61), Phillips (Plevey 76), Rawson (T Davies 53), Griffiths, Kenworthy, Gray, Cook (Gross), Wilson (W Davies). Unused sub: Woodrow.
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