Doncaster Knights 27 Cornish Pirates 27: Knights seal stirring fightback as Maliq Holden sees red

Doncaster Knights will defend vigorously winger Maliq Holden at the RFU disciplinary hearing into the red card which resulted in his dismissal late in the first half at Castle Park.
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Holden was involved in a clash with Pirates’ prop Matt Johnson on 37 minutes and was sent off by referee George Shelwood for what seemed punching.

Although the fine details of the incident will be debated at the RFU hearing, Doncaster will argue that Holden was retaliating or defending himself following a foul by the Pirates’ forward.

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Holden’s red card meant that Doncaster had to compete with only 14 men for more than 50 minutes, and indeed at one point in the second half, the Knights were handicapped further when flanker Fyn Brown was shown a yellow card in the 48th.

RED CARD: Doncaster Knights' Maliq Holden. Picture: Tony JohnsonRED CARD: Doncaster Knights' Maliq Holden. Picture: Tony Johnson
RED CARD: Doncaster Knights' Maliq Holden. Picture: Tony Johnson

Such indiscipline was a regular occurrence throughout and given that Doncaster, behind 10-0 at the interval and then 22-3 after the Pirates had scored a fourth try on 50 minutes were being outplayed, it was astonishing they managed a draw.

They were helped significantly in their splendid recovery by Pirates who continued to annoy the referee, penalising them 21 times, so with the ball being handed over so regularly, Doncaster took advantage and surprisingly finished with two points instead of a near certain defeat.

Tries on 53, 57 and 77 minutes transformed the encounter, much to the pleasure of another decent crowd of more than 2,000.

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Centre Joe Margetts, demonstrating genuine power and pace, launched the fight back, and his try was followed quickly by winger George Simpson who sprinted 40 metres to score, completing a thrilling counter-attack involving hooker George Roberts.

With fly half Russell Bennett converting, Doncaster were now back in contention having cut the Pirates’ lead to 22-17.The revival, though, was far from over, and while Pirates added a fifth putting them in front by 27-17, Doncaster’s forwards hit back.

Winning possession on the Pirates’ line, a long pass was thrown to Simpson, unopposed, giving the winger the simple opportunity to score his team’s third and his second, and as he then ran behind the posts, Bennett had a straightforward conversion to add to his earlier crucial kicks..two conversions and two penalties..12 vital points in total.

Doncaster’s commitment takes them to 46 points and while they drop to fifth behind Bedford, Pirates, Coventry and leaders Ealing Trailfinders with five Championship games remaining, skipper and number eight Jack Rigby was delighted with the attitude of his team-mates.

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“ This result shows that we can stick together, and our character was unbelievable. The way we hung on when we were down to 14 and then 13 was a massive testament to the fight we’ve shown all season.”

Doncaster Knights: McBryde, Simpson, Margetts, Edwards, Holden, Bennett, Dolly, Davidson(Courtney 63), Roberts(Terry 63), Thiede(Barrett 48),Mintern(Beckett 48), Murphy, Brown(Ehizode 63), Smeaton, Digby(Cant 57).

Cornish Pirates: Moyle, Trewin, Evans, Elderkin, McNab, Houston, Schwarz(Dawson 50), Zigiriadis(Andrew 61), Nelson(Williams 50), Johnson(Richardson 50), Britton(King 67), Barker, Everett, Stevens, Bokenham(Gibson 57).

Referee: George Shelwood RFU.