Doncaster Knights 26 Newcastle Falcons 47
Doncaster Knights finished their pre-season campaign on a disappointing note by going down 47-26 at home to a Newcastle Falcons XV.
The two sides went in at half time with the scores level at 19-19 at the end of a competitive and entertaining first half.
But the Premiership side, who fielded a handful of players to have turned out at first team level, ran away with the game in the second half.
Knights rarely threatened to score in the second half and didn’t manage to add to their account until the last minute when Academy half-back Seth Adams, who also added the extras, went over from close range.
Adams was one of 13 changes in the Doncaster side during the second half and that didn’t help in terms of cohesion nor did the fact that the scrums became uncontested after Falcons ran out of front-row replacements.
But that can’t excuse some of the sloppy handling and defensive errors which marred Knights’ second half display and dashed any hopes of repeating last season’s friendly win over the Kingston Park side.
Knights had acquitted themselves well in their two previous warm-up games against the Sale club and set off well on Saturday and led 14-0 in the first quarter.
Both sides looked to play an expansive game in a frenetic opening with the ball being swung from side to side – though not always accurately.
Wing Steve McColl, who must surely have booked his place in the side to visit Cornish Pirates in Sunday’s opening Championship game at Mennaye Field, intercepted a pass deep in his own half to instigate the move which led to centre Lloyd Hayes touching down for a try converted by fly-half Charlie Foley.
Flanker Morgan Eames, another who looks a certainty to face Pirates, extended Doncaster’s lead with a close-range try.
The visitors then scored three tries without reply during which they exposed some defensive frailties.
Speedy wing Zach Kibirige raced in at the corner after an attempted clearance kick had been charged down.
Flanker Connor Collett was on hand to finish off a neat move in the Doncaster 22 prior to hooker Jamie Blamire going over following a superb offload by young centre Ben Stevenson.
It took a tremendous tackle by his opposite number to deny McColl, who had got away down the left.
Eames made it four tries in the last two games when capitalising on good work by former Newcastle second-rower Nick Civetta in the lineout to charge over on the stroke of half time.
With Knights having made a number of changes during the break it was Falcons who took a lead they never looked like losing in the opening minutes of a scrappy third quarter with a try from 20 metres out by Fijian international No 8 Nemani Nagusa, who proved a handful throughout on his debut.
Falons struck again just before the hour mark when Stevenson showed blistering pace on a 70m run to the line after a Doncaster attack had broken down.
He scored a tremendous long-range individual try ten minutes later on the other flank prior to full-back Tom Arscott going over.