Doncaster Knights 19 Jersey 26: Relegation rivals send Knights to eighth successive league defeat

Bevon Armitageon his 100th appearance for Knights
Bevon Armitageon his 100th appearance for Knights

Doncaster Knights centre Bevon Armitage made his 100th appearance for the club against fellow Championship strugglers Jersey at Castle Park.

Sadly for Armitage, who could have bagged a brace on another day, he had nothing to celebrate due to Knights slumping to an eighth successive league defeat as Jersey deservedly grabbed their first win in any game since early November to ease their relegation fears.

It was a game that Knights desperately wanted to win, not least to avenge the defeat at Jersey which condemned them to relegation two seasons ago.

And given Jersey’s recent record, it was a game they went into believing that they could win and start the climb back up to mid-table.

But apart from the opening exchanges, and to a lesser extent the dying minutes when they threw caution to the wind against their 14-man opponents in a bid to snatch a draw, they struggled to break Jersey’s defensive stranglehold.

Despite the introduction of two dual-registered forwards from Leicester – hooker Harry Thacker making the bigger impact – Knights were second best up front for long periods.

With few scrums successfully completed, recalled fly-half Paul Roberts’ attacking options were severely limited and the likes of wing Tyson Lewis had little opportunity to use his searing pace on his return to the side.

It made for a disappointing spectacle on a bitterly cold afternoon and while the majority of the Doncaster supporters would probably still tip the team to stay up given the quality within the squad, the club need to get back to winning ways quickly.

Knights made a promising start and forced an early 3-0 lead but they were mainly on the back-foot for most of the first half and with Jersey scoring two converted tries they led 23-9 at the break.

Knights’ best chance of a try came when Armitage failed to gather when well-placed after charging down a clearance kick.

The strong-running centre was almost over during a dominant third quarter which saw scrum-half Tomasi Palu cross from close range on 56 minutes.

Despite that he came off second best in his dual with Tongan international rival Samisoni Fisilau, who made an impressive debut for Jersey.

Knights finally got the ball out wide in the closing stages after Bentley had been sin-binned, but it was all too frantic and desperate and Jersey, who had surrendered a match-winning lead in the last ten minutes against leaders Bristol a week earlier, never looked like doing so again.

Doncaster: Jarvis; Flockhart, Catchpole, Armitage, Lewis, Roberts, Palu; List, Hacker, Quigley, Challoner, Phelan, Pearce, Hills, Shaw. Rep: Bergmanas, Hunter, Ross Davies, Hotson, Makaafi, Francis, Bravo.

Jersey: Pointer; Foster, Locke, Robling, McCrea, Bentley Fisilau; Lockwood, Buckle, Williams, Phillips, Campbell, Noone, Hodson, Haining. Rep: Selway, Lancubu, Harriott, Markham, Kayo, Glynn, Penberthy.

Attendance: 1.343