Doncaster Knights set for key title clash against Cornish Pirates

Promotion might be off the table, at least for now, but top of the table Doncaster Knights still have a league title to win.

By Jamie Crawford
Friday, 11th March 2022, 10:23 am
Alex Dolly has impressed for Knights this season.
Alex Dolly has impressed for Knights this season.

And their final home game of the Championship season is set to have huge ramifications in the race for top spot.

Third-placed Cornish Pirates are the visitors to Castle Park on Saturday (2.30pm) with both sides eager to keep the pressure on title rivals Ealing Trailfinders.

Ealing currently sit second in the standings, two points behind Doncaster with a game in hand. The Pirates are four points behind Knights with two games in hand. Ealing and the Pirates play each other on March 26.

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About the opposition

Cornish Pirates hope to move into a purpose-built stadium called the Stadium for Cornwall in the near future.

The stadium was granted planning permission over nine years ago but construction is finally expected to start this year.

However, the stadium plans seem at odds with the reports that emerged this week that the Pirates could go part time next season.

While Doncaster and Ealing saw their applications for promotion to the Premiership rejected by the RFU, the Pirates chose not apply for promotion on this occasion.

Head-to-head

The Pirates have been something of a bogey club for Doncaster over the years. They prevailed 29-7 in the reverse fixture in December.

However, Knights did record a memorable 17-15 win over the Pirates at Castle Park during the shortened 2020/21 season.

The victory – Knights’ first win against the Pirates in nine attempts – was secured by Sam Olver’s penalty in the dying stages.

Last time out

Knights came home in jubilant mood after winning 25-17 at Ealing Trailfinders a fortnight ago.

The Pirates beat fourth-placed Jersey Reds 21-17 last weekend to maintain their unbeaten home record in the league.

Jersey were 14-0 up after just nine minutes but Pirates showed their quality and character to turn the game on its head.

All tries were converted and the Pirates beat the Reds 3-2 on the try-count.

Dangermen

Hooker Tom Channon has a dozen tries to his name this season, putting him joint third in the Championship try-scoring chart.

Fly half Arwel Robson is the Championship’s sixth top points-scorer with over 100 points.

Verdict

Pirates’ rolling maul is legendary so Knights must be wary of Channon and Danny Cutmore’s conveyor belt which provides clean possession for their backs.

It is a must-win game for the Knights but the title is out of their hands. All they can do is win their last two games by five points and make it as difficult as they can to be overtaken.

Fixtures

Richmond v Hartpury, Jersey v Nottingham, Ampthill v Ealing, Bedford v Coventry.