Knights at the double

Lynn Howells, Head Coach of Doncaster Knights. Picture: Holly Allen.
Lynn Howells, Head Coach of Doncaster Knights. Picture: Holly Allen.

Lynn Howells hopes a little bit of fine tuning will see his Knights team hit the all right notes in the Championship play-offs.

Doncaster bring down the curtain on their regular league season against Cornish Pirates at Castle Park on Saturday (2.30pm).

Matthew Williams scores Doncaster's first try against Esher. Picture: Liz Mockler D8378LM

Matthew Williams scores Doncaster's first try against Esher. Picture: Liz Mockler D8378LM

Howells was critical of his team after they almost contrived to throw away victory at home to Esher at the weekend but held on for a thrilling 45-42 win to a seal a sixth place finish.

They made up for an error-strewn showing by beating local rivals Rotherham Titans 46-29 in convincing fashion on Tuesday night to maintain hopes of reaching the British & Irish Cup quarter finals.

But Howells says there’s still plenty of work to do before the play-offs get underway.

He said: “I want us to iron out a few things in our game and Saturday is the perfect opportunity to do exactly that.

“There’s nothing really big to put right.

“But we do need to stop giving away silly penalties - and we need to learn how to put a game to bed when we get into a winning position.

“We scored 34 points and lost at Rotherham in the league a fortnight ago and the same almost happened again against Esher.

“I’ll fetch a referee in at some point to talk to the players and that might help us - although a lot of the refereeing has been inconsistent this season.

“But we need to just knuckle down in training between now and the play-offs and look to get things right.”

The Knights burst out of the blocks against Esher on Saturday and scored three tries in the opening 14 minutes - and later led 42-21 with half an hour to play.

But the hosts’ inability to hold onto possession - and concede soft penalties - almost left Howells’ men red-faced at the final whistle.

Winger Matty Williams caught the eye in the first half with tries in the opening minute and in stoppage time, while Steve Boden and PJ Gidlow also touched down to put the home side in the box seat.

Tries from stand-out performer Steve McColl and Neil Cochrane helped increase the deficit to 21 points.

But Doncaster almost threw away the win as a string of errors allowed Esher to score three converted tries in the final 20 minutes and set up a thrilling climax.

Tuesday night’s rearranged B&I clash at home to Rotherham, however, saw the Knights deliver a more polished performance as dually registered Leeds Carnegie fly half Christian Lewis-Pratt stole the show with a superb four-try salvo.

Howells said: “We played some fabulous rugby on Tuesday night and I think we showed what we are capable of doing.

“We were happy with the way we played against Esher too - but what we weren’t happy with was how we let them play.”

Lewis-Pratt may be recalled by Leeds this weekend, while fellow loanees James Craig and Jacob Rowan are also unavailable.

Fly half Tristan Roberts again misses out with a shoulder injury.