Doncaster Knights 15 London Scottish 13: Sam Olver boots Knights to another last gasp win
Castle Park is proving no place for anyone with a faint heart since the turn of the year.
For the second successive home game, Knights left it late to claim victory via the boot of fly-half Sam Olver who converted a 25 metre penalty to earn his side a 15-13 win over London Scottish.
Director of rugby Clive Griffiths had set his charges a target of three wins against Nottingham, Ampthill and Scottish and although disappointed to have lost at Ampthill, where the visitors picked up two bonus points, he can feel reasonably satisfied with the ten-point haul which has lifted Knights up to seventh.
But, along with fellow coaches Steve Boden and Francis Cummins, he will not have been happy with much of what he saw during a scrappy encounter which was generally a poor advert for Championship rugby.
A lack of discipline didn’t help Knights’ cause neither did some aimless kicking in the first half or some basic handling errors.
There were some positives, however, with second-row Matt Smith making an impressive return after a two-month injury lay-off and 21 year-old scrum-half Sam Pocklington giving an assured performance on his starting debut for the club – the highlight being a 40 metre break from a scrum in his own half in the first period.
Hooker Ben Hunter, who rarely has a bad game, also caught the eye in a hard-working pack.
If the visitors were in need of a confidence boost following recent defeats, they were handed one when Knights dropped the ball from the kick-off which led to a spell of sustained pressure on their own line in the build-up to a close-range try by flanker Luke Frost after just three minutes.
Knights seemed stunned by the score and were all over the place for the next few minutes and they didn’t enter the Exiles’ 22 until a 17th minute penalty.
The home side opened their account on 20 minutes when veteran prop Colin Quigley forced his way over for a close-range try, converted by Olver, after they had kept the ball tight when the better option had looked be to give it some air after initially drawing a blank.
Knights continued to splutter in attack prior to increasing their lead with an unconverted try by flanker Fotu Lokotui from a well-worked catch-and-drive routine initiated by skipper Tom Calladine’s clean take.
The Tongan international was sin-binned shortly before half-time with Scottish wasting no time in cashing in on their numerical advantage with an unconverted try by Lewis Wynne.
Fly-half Harry Sheppard kicked Scottish into a 13-12 lead with a 50th minute penalty and that’s the way it stayed, with Scottish slightly shading the exchanges despite having second-rower Alex Toolis sin-binned, until Olver had the final word.
But Knights almost threw them a lifeline at the death after failing to gather the ball from the restart and then conceding a penalty.
Knights: Cowell, Evans, Roberts, Foley, Wilson, Olver, Pocklington; Hislop, Hunter, Quigley, Pitman, Smith, Lokotui, Conradie, Calladine. Rep: Holling, Thomas, Sproston, Eames, Volpi, Cullen, McColl, Hayes.