Doncaster Knights 36 London Scottish 7: Second half stormer sees Knights home
Doncaster Knights recovered from a turgid first half to eventually ease home to a first win of the Championship season against London Scottish.
Head coach Steve Boden had been scathing of his squad’s display in last week’s campaign opener when they fell 39-22 at Coventry.
Initially it looked like things had not improved at Castle Park as his side struggled to make any impact against opponents who had been vanquished 47-7 by Jersey Reds when they started out.
However, Boden’s side improved sufficiently to run in four unanswered second half tries via George Edgson, Guido Volpi, Henry Paul and Jack Spittle.
There was plenty there to suggest this relatively youthful side can push on in 2021-22.
Doncaster led 10-7 at the break but only after scoring a penalty try in injury-time at the end of a largely disappointing half.
Both sides were error-prone, suffering rudimentary errors particularly when it came to fielding kicks, but Scottish were narrowly less so.
However, when Doncaster did manage to make some inroads for Fraser Strachan and Billy McBryde to find Kyle Evans, the winger was cruelly felled by Leo Fielding’s high tackle.
Just a couple of metres out, it was a clear try-scoring opportunity and the referee showed no hesitation in awarding a penalty try and brandishing the Scottish winger a yellow card.
Sam Olver, who opened the scoring with a third minute penalty, slotted the conversion but Doncaster knew they needed to improve vastly.
They had been lax when allowing their opponents to score when under no real threat in the 15th minute.
With nowhere to go, Sam Hanks slid a nothing kick through down the left and Doncaster No8 Guido Volpi had ample time to deal with it but he hesitated and the ball bounced wickedly for Hanks to follow up.
Laurence May converted but, thereafter, it was a catalogue of errors from both.
Doncaster’s back-row was their main asset, openside Sam Graham twice finding open space from short balls from forward colleagues but both times it came to nothing.
May added a penalty after a scrum penalty and Knights were grateful to the diminutive Olver after he held his own to produce a try-saving tackle on powerful full-back Rory Hughes after Brian Tuilagi had been set free down the left touchline.
Once Boden’s side were ahead, they did, at least, eventually take advantage of Scottish being a man down.
At the start of the second period, hooker George Edgson broke clear from a scrappy line-out only to see a woeful Billy McBryde pass sail forward with a massive overlap begging.
The full-back was let off, though, as soon after Doncaster kicked to the corner from a penalty and Edgson scored from the driving maul.
Olver’s conversion bounced over off an upright for a 17-7 lead but, once back up to 15, Scottish started to find some rhythm of their own.
The hosts spent plenty of time penned in their own half but, to their credit, were well-organised in defence and never looked like buckling.
Instead, ruining any hopes of gaining parity, the visitors imploded again as hooker Nick Selway was yellow carded for dangerous foul play in the ruck right in front of the official.
Moments later, Volpi cut a perfect line off Alex Dolly’s short ball to power through from 25m and it was essentially game over in the 64th minute.
Olver improved and the hosts secured a bonus point when Paul charged over in the 79th minute.
There was time for a fifth try, too, when hard-working winger Jack Spittle finished well in injury-time for a deserved effort.
Doncaster Knights: McBryde (Davey 73); Spittle, Edwards (Best 57), Strachan, Evans; Olver, Dolly; Cade (Vaughan 60), Edgson (Roberts 69), Denman (Paul 57), Drake (Davies 57), Peters, Kelly (Hudson 69) , Graham, Volpi.
London Scottish: Hughes (Ferdinand 50); Fielding, Hyde, Hanks, Halaifonua; May, Hoadley; Ellwood, Selway, Rees (Gibson 65), Tyas, Hammond, Jurevicius, Tuilagi (Edevbalo-Ehizode 80), Baldwin.