Doncaster Knights: Our execution must improve, warns Paul Cooke

Nick Civetta in action against Ealing.
Nick Civetta in action against Ealing.

Doncaster Knights’ director of rugby Clive Griffiths was back at Castle Park on Saturday as he continues to recover from heart surgery.

But his presence could not inspire Knights to a third successive Championship win.

Griffiths, who is not yet back in charge, will no doubt have shared the feelings of fellow coaches Glen Kenworthy and Paul Cooke after seeing Knights go down 38-22 against fancied Ealing.

“I’m disappointed and both Glen and I feel the same,” said Cooke.

“The scoreline probably flattered them but we didn’t execute the way we wanted to.

“That was probably the worst thing as far as we were concerned and it gave Ealing opportunities, which they took, on the back of it.

“They are a good team but we are also a good team.”

Knights’ pre-match plan had been to attack Ealing from the start and deny them a platform from which to win the game.

“We took an early 3-0 lead but we allowed them back in with our own errors,” said Cooke.

“Despite being 21-8 down at half time we still felt that we were in the game because we’d had plenty of opportunities.

“We spoke about the need to score first and we made a good break only to give the ball away again and they went down the other end and scored again.

“After that error and try we started to play the way we wanted to play and we got back in the game prior to gifting them a couple of scoring opportunities near the end.

“Although that was disappointing (to finish empty handed) I told the players after the game that if you give away that many opportunities you deserve what we got at the end.”

Scrum-half Tom James won the man-of-the-match award and fellow backs Lloyd Hayes and Paul Jarvis were among others to catch the eye.

“There were plenty of plus points though I wouldn’t like to single players out,” said Cooke.

“As a group we’ve got to realise that we are a decent side but we’ve got to get better in the areas of our game where we are continually making errors.

“We’ve got to be better both individually and collectively and if individuals keep on making mistakes then we’ve got to find an answer to that. We’ve got a big squad so we can change things.”

Second-rower Morgan Eames, who came off the bench, could miss out on a return to his former club Nottingham on Friday night after picking up an injury.