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Doncaster Knights 22 Jersey 47: Visitors run in seven tries – but margin of victory flatters them

Cameron Cowell dances through for Knights' opening try
Cameron Cowell dances through for Knights' opening try

Games between Doncaster Knights and Jersey Reds are traditionally close-fought affairs but that wasn’t the case at Castle Park on Saturday as Jersey romped to a 47-22 Championship win.

You would have got long odds on Jersey running in seven tries and posting their highest ever score against the Knights given the fact that they had won just one of their previous four games and had yet to win on the road.

But though their margin of victory, boosted by two injury-time converted tries, perhaps flattered them slightly they proved worthy winners.

Admittedly, Knights preparations had been far from ideal with several players going down with a bug at the start of the week and several others facing late fitness tests, but that didn’t account for all their short-comings.

They often looked sluggish and short of ideas with ball in hand compared to Jersey and had a tendency to drive the ball in when at times the better option would have been to move it wide to make better use of such as the fleet-footed Cam Cowell.

It was the dual-registered full-back who produced one of the few moments of quality from Knights in the first half after they had conceded a second-minute try.

There looked to be nothing on when Cowell got the ball 35m out, but showing quick feet, pace and balance he beat a number of defenders to score a superb solo try.

With fly-half Kurt Murtagh, who kicked well to touch from penalties, adding the extras, the scene was set for Knights to kick on.

That didn’t happen and Jersey regained the lead with a try by centre Mark Best following a superb back-pass by second-rower Charles Beckett after the ball had been zipped across the back line with a speed and fluency Knights struggled to match most of the afternoon.

Jersey stuck again just before the half-time whistle when goal-kicking fly-half Aaron Penberthy created the chance for centre James Newey to race through from 15m out for a second converted try to make it 19-7.

The visitors wrapped up a try bonus point inside the first five minutes of the second half from another driving maul. Murtagh pulled three points back but Jersey hit back with another well-worked try by full-back Augustin Slowik.

No 8 Josh Tyrell, who made the initial break just outside the Jersey 22, scored a 56th minute close-range try after centre Joel Matavesi - with whom he twice exchanged passes - had been nailed just short.

Wing Dougie Flockhart celebrated his first game of the season when racing over from close range for a late try he also converted to cut the deficit to 33-22.

Had the long pass from centre Mat Clark not being ruled forward, Tom James would have earned Knights at least a try bonus point and possibly a losing bonus point.

Indeed, with the referee playing ten minutes’ stoppage time, there could even have been the chance to win the game. Not that they would have deserved to do so.

Knights: Cowell, Flockhart, Clark, Matavesi, Lewis, Morath, James; Hislop, Hunter, Quigley, Challinor, Hicks, Calladine, Hills, Tyrell. Rep: Nelson, Sprotson, Williams, Civetta, James, Seniloli, Foley.