Doncaster Knights 46 Hull Ionians 8

Dougie Flockhart races away to score against Hull Ionians. Picture James Hardisty.
Dougie Flockhart races away to score against Hull Ionians. Picture James Hardisty.

The Knights lead the race to the Championship at the half way mark as they top National One for the festive break following victory over bottom side Hull Ionians.

But director of rugby Clive Griffiths will know there is plenty of work to do to get his side over the finishing line after seeing the division’s basement boys give the Knights a real test at times in front of a season-high crowd at Castle Park.

On paper the game had everything with eight tries, two sendings off and a hat trick but the reality was not nearly as thrilling.

The seven try win – though expected – was somewhat flattering to Doncaster who, while always a level above their rivals, were not as dominant as the scoreline would suggest.

What will have pleased Griffiths is the ruthless manner in which his side scored, spotting gaps in the Hull defence to run in some remarkable individual tries.

Jet-heeled winger Tyson Lewis was the epitome of this, running in an eye-catching hat trick, but he was not the only one.

After Chris Reakes gave the visitors a surprise lead just five minutes in, the Knights came to life.

Lewis’ three tries gave the Knights a 22-8 lead at the break.

His second try was the stand out of the trio, collecting the ball on his own 40m line and racing past two challenges to score under the posts.

It seemed as though a real drubbing was in the cards when Dougie Flockhart and Paul Jarvis scored quick fire tries in the opening 15 minutes of the second half.

But the Knights failed to truly turn the screw until the dying moments when the impressive Jarvis added a second and debutant Jacon Woodhouse scored on his first appearance since his recent move from Manley in Australia.

For a game in which a man from either side was red carded, it was not a particularly ill-tempered affair. Hull, to their credit, battled hard and produced some excellent passing rugby, belying their status as relegation favourites.

Any hopes of an upset were somewhat undone when Henry Forbes saw red for an apparent headbutt during an unnecessary melee.

The numbers were evened up in the second half when Adam Kettle was sent off for stamping, though the Knights have claimed mistaken identity and will lodge an immediate appeal.

Knights: Jarvis, Flockhart, Clark, Bannister, Lewis (Woodhouse 47), Lennard (Roberts 67), Bravo, Brugnara (Morris 54), Santamaria (Bergmanas 70), Pasquali, Kenworthy (Spencer 70), Walker-Fitton, Challinor, Hills, Kettle.

Attendance: 1,425