Doncaster Knights regain top spot after excellent win in Jersey

An outstanding performance in the Channel Islands against Jersey saw Doncaster Knights return to the top of the Championship.

By Guy Williams
Monday, 17th January 2022, 9:00 am
Mark Best was on the trysheet in Knights' win over Jersey.
Mark Best was on the trysheet in Knights' win over Jersey.

Knights’ 35-19 victory was their tenth league win from 13 games and keeps their promotion dream alive.

Their nearest rivals for a place in the elite of English rugby are Ealing Trailfinders who went top briefly following their victory against Nottingham on Friday.

They have the same number of points (46) as Doncaster but have played two games fewer.

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Therefore the match between the two sides at the end of February at Ealing is truly significant and no-one should underestimate the ability of Doncaster to compete effectively, especially as they won the first encounter at Castle Park in November.

As Doncaster’s coach Steve Boden knows, as he played and coached in Jersey, to achieve a victory at the Stade Santander International is hard enough so to leave with a maximum five points is a special achievement.

Tries by centre Mark Best, also formerly of Jersey, forward Thom Smith, replacement centre Connor Edwards and fly-half Sam Olver, plus 15 points from Olver’s kicking produced a remarkable win but it was the collective response that delighted Boden.

“I’m so pleased,” he said. “This was a fantastic performance and result. The efforts put in by the boys were tremendous. I know we’ve gone back to the top of the table which is great but I’m more concerned about keeping our run of good results going.”

Best scored the first try on 30 minutes, collecting a perfect bounce to dive between the posts.

As Doncaster’s pack increased the pressure, No 8 Smith barged over just before the interval from a driving maul after Jersey had been penalised.

Doncaster then led 15-0 but had to contend with a strong Reds recovery which cut the lead to 28-19 after they scored three tries in the second half.

Doncaster’s third try by Edwards, following powerful work by the forwards, had effectively claimed the spoils.

Late in the second half, once again after their superior pack had gained a strong attacking position, Olver joined his forwards and claimed the fourth try and with it the bonus point.

Doncaster are at home to Ampthill on January 29 and against Bedford Blues a week later.

Jersey: Simmons (Van Breda 30), Hutler, Olowofela, Holgate, Brown, Owen, Mitchell (Elliott 54), Flynn (Owen 57), Clarke, Longwell (Higgins 57), O’Connor, Cook, Argyle (Humfrey 47), Wynne (Grey 57), White.

Knights: McBryde, Evans, Margetts (Edwards 70), Best, Holden, Olver, Dolly (Green 78), Davidson (Carlile 63), Roberts, Foster, Murphy (Peters 61), Drake (Oram 63), Hudson (Volpi 34), Graham, Smith.

Referee: S Cox