Doncaster Knights 27 Jersey Reds 24: ‘We certainly did it the hard way’, admits Knights coach Steve Boden
Doncaster’s fly-half Sam Olver celebrated his 50th appearance for the Knights with a match-winning penalty with two minutes remaining at Castle Park in the closest and most competitive of contests which was a credit to the quality of the Championship.
Olver, who had already kicked four penalties and a conversion but had missed three kicks, displayed his accuracy when it mattered most, and on 78 minutes put over the three points confirming that Doncaster would win their second league game in four.
In a tense encounter which had both teams level at 21-21 and then 24-all late in the second half, Doncaster started brilliantly by scoring two rapid tries from scrum-half Alex Dolly and centre Connor Edwards, both set-up by exciting counter attacks from full-back Harry Davey, starting for the first time.
But after establishing an early 15-0 lead, Doncaster declined as Jersey fought back, scoring three tries on 26, 36 and 54 minutes.
With plenty of time left, the Knights – now drawing 21-21 after Reds’ scrum-half James Mitchell had converted the try by winger Taiye Olowofela – were struggling to break through for the vital score.
Not having scored a try since the 16th minute, Doncaster found it hard to create clear opportunities in Jersey’s defence.
But with their opponents, unbeaten and top of the league before kick-off, conceding so many penalties, Olver took advantage.
However, Doncaster’s victory also owed much to rock-hard defence by the pack and in midfield by centres Edwards and Fraser Strachan.
Knights’ coach Steve Boden, whose team delivered their best performance so far, was highly satisfied:
“I’m delighted because it showed the character the club has been built on in the last couple of years.
“We showed it in abundance,” he added.
“We certainly did it the hard way because we built a good lead and then let it slip.
“I thought we were on the harsh end of some decisions but credit to Sam Olver who stepped up. He showed nerves of steel and nailed one. Sam practices daily for these moments.”
Doncaster now have a break for two Saturdays before their next league game at Ampthill in Bedfordshire at the end of this month.
Doncaster Knights: Davey, Evans, Strachan(Best 74), Edwards, Spittle, Olver, Dolly, Cade(Vaughan 76), Edgson(Roberts 70), Denman, Drake, Peters, Davies, Graham, Volpi.
Jersey Reds: Simmons(Pittman 68), Olowofela, Roberts(Holgate 76), Barnes, Brown, Owen, Mitchell(Elliott 68), Flynn, Clarke(Harris 61), Longwell, O’Connor(Farrance 61), Cook, Argyle, Wynne(Grey 70), Thompson.
Referee: Andrew Jackson.