Doncaster Knights 17 Leinster A 41: Michael Hills marks 100th Knights apparance with a try but Leinster A too good for the hosts
Doncaster Knights' skipper Michael Hills had to settle for a last-minute consolation try when celebrating his 100th appearance for his hometown club at Castle Park.
Flying high in the Championship, Knights had hoped to get their B & I Cup campaign off to a winning start against a Leinster A side playing their first competitive game of the season. But they found themselves on the wrong end of a 41-17 scoreline.
Knights boast the best defensive record in the Championship so the fact that Leinster were able to run in five tries came as a bit of a surprise.
But they were clinical when it came to converting their chances and on this showing will represent a threat to every side in a competition they have twice won.
Although second-best, Knights may feel the margin of defeat a little harsh.
They didn’t always enjoy the rub of the green when it came to decisions, or turning some of their chances into tries, and on another day could have had a couple more to their tally.
They certainly posed a threat in the backs with centre Lloyd Hayes showing up well on his first appearance of an injury-hit campaign.
Full-back Charlie Foley was another to catch the eye in attack while Tyson Lewis and Andy Bulumakau were always a threat with ball in hand.
Switched from his usual centre berth to the wing because of injury and suspension, Bulumakau came close to opening the scoring during a bright opening by Knights.
But Leinster weathered the early storm and then started to assert their authority, winning themselves two kickable penalties which fly-half Conor Dean converted.
There was no lack of effort from a Doncaster pack showing several changes, but their opponents had the edge for long periods.
No 8 Max Deegan, in particular, proved a handful in the first half and scored twice in as many minutes to give his side a 20-0 lead on the half-hour.
His first was the result of a well-executed 50m move from a turnover but questions need to be asked of the Doncaster defence when scoring his second try.
Tries either side of the interval put Knights back in contention at 20-12.
Centre Will Owen crashed over from close range on 37 minutes after Canadian international No 8 Aaron Carpenter had been held short from a flowing move seconds earlier.
Foley found a gap down the middle to create the chance for Lewis to race in from around 35m out during a time when Leinster had a man in the sin-bin.
But soonafter prop Peter Dooley touched down from close range during Leinster’s first attack of the half to make it 27-12.
Leinster made their late chances count and they were leading 41-12 when Hills dived over wide out following some neat handling in the 22.