Doncaster Knights 28 London Scottish 21: Knights secure dramatic victory against fellow strugglers
Doncaster Knights claimed a dramatic 28-21 victory over fellow Championship strugglers London Scottish at Castle Park.
Viewed as a must-win game by both teams in their battle to pull clear of the relegation zone faced with the resurgence of Hartpury and Richmond in recent weeks, a nervy encounter was decided by a last-minute converted try by Samoan No 8 Josh Tyrell.
The game had looked to be heading for a 21-21 draw after Doncaster’s Dougie Flockhart – so often the club’s match-winner in similar circumstances over the years - had pulled a 76th minute penalty wide.
Scottish fly-half Rory Jennings also had a late drop goal attempt charged down by hard-working flanker OIlie Steadman whose subsequent midfield run helped create the position from which Knights claimed victory and a try-bonus point following a side-to-side assault.
Given their territorial dominance for long periods of the game, Knights shouldn’t have had to leave it so late to claim victory.
But a combination of poor tactical kicking and handling mistakes, allied to some outstanding defence by the Exiles, meant that the result remained in the balance until the final whistle.
It didn’t look as though that would be the case in the opening exchanges as Knights raced into an early 7-0 lead with a converted try by Steadman following a driving maul.
When Scottish hooker Jared Saunders sin-binned for a foul on wing Paul Jarvis after six minutes Knights had the perfect chance to add to their lead over the next ten minutes.
But not only did they not do so but they also conceded a converted try during the Exiles first foray into the Doncaster 22.
Centre Tom Griffiths broke the line just outside the Doncaster 22 and scrum-half Ed Hoadley, who picked up an injury which led to his substitution, added the finishing touches.
Knights’ frustration at being unable to breach the Scottish defence -despite the efforts of their front-row in particular - started to take its toll in the second quarter.
With half-backs Tom James and Sam Olver having little room to create openings for their outside backs Knights looked short of ideas at times.
Scottish secured themselves a 14-7 interval lead when replacement scrum-half Josh Barton sent linking full-back Charlie Ingall over out wide from a ruck.
Knights regained the initiative at the start of the second half and went close through Flockhart in the corner after good work by full-back Cameron Cowell in the build-up.
Their pressure paid off on 52 minutes when centre Jack Roberts celebrated his debut with a close-range try after Tyrell had been held just short from a quick tap penalty.
But there was no stopping Tyrell minutes later when he edged the home side into a 21-14 lead from close range.
Scottish levelled the scores with a close-range converted try by wing Rob Stevenson.
Knights: Cowell, Flockhart, Roberts, Clark, Jarvis, Olver, James; Hislop, Hunter, Beech, Civetta, Hicks, Steadman, Hills, Tyrell. Rep: Mayhew, List, Sproston, Challinor, Burrows, Polataivao, Morath.