Doncaster Knights 26 Nottingham 21: Home sweet home for Knights

Mat Clark is stopped in his tracks by William Millett. Photo: Gary Longbottom
Mat Clark is stopped in his tracks by William Millett. Photo: Gary Longbottom

Doncaster Knights may have suffered several bouts of travel sickness on the road this season but they remain in good health at Castle Park.

Knights cemented their top-four spot in the Championship with a 26-21 win over a new-look Nottingham side to claim their third home win in as many starts.

But Knights again made it hard for themselves at times and have yet to recapture the form which took them to last season’s play-off final.

Various individuals are stepping up to the plate and there is no lack of effort, but as a team Knights lack the cohesion which made them such a hard side to beat during the 2015-16 campaign.

Fortunately, Knights’ pack turned back the clock to last season when their driving maul was so vital.

“It wasn’t the greatest of games and we are still making mistakes,” said Doncaster play-maker Declan Cusack. “But we ground it out in the second half and we were well on top for the first 30 minutes.”

Looking keen to bounce back from the defeat at Ealing, Knights made the early running only to find themselves 12-0 down after as many minutes.

Nottingham scrum-half Murray McConnell latched on to a loose ball at a ruck on the halfway line and showed good pace in a touchline tilt which saw him evade a desperate cover tackle by flanker Latu Makaafi .

Green and Whites struck again when replacement fly-half William Millett picked wing Calum Hall out with a superb cross field kick and he outjumped Andy Bulumakau on the line to touch down in the corner for a try converted by Millett.

The half-back then turned try-saver when making just enough of a contact with Mat Clark, who looked to have a clear run to the line after being put clear by Bulumakau, to make him stumble and lose his balance.

Knights weren’t to be denied, however, and good handling saw wing Tyson Lewis cross out wide.

The two sides traded penalties in the second quarter which ended with Nottingham leading 18-11.

Whatever was said during the break had the right effect and Makaafi touched down from a driving maul soon after the restart.

Cusack failed to convert but made amends when kicking Knights into a 19-18 lead with a 57th minute penalty.

Knights gave themselves much-needed breathing space when prop WillGriff John claimed second try from a driving maul on 65 minutes which Cusack converted to make it 26-18.

The visitors belatedly rediscovered their attacking edge but their only joy was a last-minute penalty by Millettto secured a losing bonus point.

Knights: Jarvis, Bulumakau, Clark, Hayes, Lewis, Cusack, Heaney; List, Allen, John, Maksymjw, Young, Makaafi, Robinson, Shaw. Rep: Hislop, Hunter, Sprotson, Williams, Flockhart, Humberstone, Edgerley.