Doncaster Knights 33 Rams RFC 0: Knights end pre-season on winning note but have lots of room for improvement
Doncaster Knights ended their pre-season campaign with a 100 per cent record after beating Rams 33-0 at Castle Park.
But this was probably the worst performance of their three warm-up games and there will be plenty of work to be done when the squad report back for training on Monday week.
Even allowing for the blustery wind, Knights made far too many handling errors and gave away too many penalties.
The major plus point was the fact that Knights, who had five men in their starting line-up making their Castle Park debut, kept a clean sheet for the first time this season.
Helped by a glut of early penalties the National League One newcomers dominated the territorial exchanges and came close to taking a seventh-minute lead.
Following some good handling in the Doncaster 22 it needed a try-saving tackle by full-back Steve McColl to deny wing Andrew Denham in a one-on-one close to the line out wide.
It was against the run of play when Knights broke the deadlock.
Young scrum-half Sam Pocklington, who could feel pleased with his home debut, sent former Carnegie centre Pete Lucock over from just over 10 metres out with a well-timed pass.
With the likes of No 8 Rory Pitman causing problems with ball in hand, Knights gradually started to build up momentum after the try.
Second-rower Morgan Eames, who showed good pace on a long midfield run in the second half, crashed over from close range after a period of forward pressure on the Rams’ line.
Wing Dougie Flockhart again added the extras to give his side a 14-0 lead which could have been more but for poor passes by McColl, after he had joined the line, and Lucock in good attacking positions.
Beaten just twice in their 2018-19 National League 2 (South) title-winning campaign, the Reading-based side ended the half on top and Knights needed to show strong try-line defence to deny them a score their efforts in the first 40 minutes probably deserved.
Knights made four changes at the start of the second half with Ollie Stedman featuring for the first time since the end of last season.
Last season’s second top try-scorer stretched Doncaster’s lead when running in unopposed from a short ball by fly-half Sam Olver who added the extras.
Wing Curtis Wilson had earlier gone over from close range from a pass by Tom James.
Wilson would have backed himself to score again later in the half had he received a better ball from Lloyd Hayes following a good move down the right.
Knights saved the best until last with McColl making the extra man in a slick move also featuring Will Burdon and Lucock which ended with the long-serving Tyson Lewis going over for his third try in as many games.
Knights: McColl, Wilson, Hayes, Lucock, Flockhart, Olver, Pocklington; Thomas, Edgson, Sproston, Challinor, Smith, Eames, Jones, Pitman. Replacements: Cullen, James, Lewis, Burden, Adams, Foley, Quigley, Foster, Beech, Hislop, Hunter, Holling, Hicks, Birch, Stedman, Hills