Head coach 'extremely proud' as Doncaster Knights come up just short
If relentless hard graft, total commitment and enthusiasm were enough to win Championship matches of huge importance, then Doncaster Knights would have left Vallis Way with the spoils.
Unfortunately, those qualities were insufficient during an outstanding contest at league leaders Ealing Trailfinders against whom Doncaster needed to gain a bonus point win, and then another five points this Saturday at Castle Park against Nottingham.
Achieving 10 points in the last two games in order to qualify for the Championship play-offs in June was highly improbable, but Yorkshire’s top club, enjoying an excellent campaign featuring just two defeats and seven victories gave a praiseworthy account against Ealing, who face Saracens in the play-offs with a place in the Premiership the prize.
Ealing’s 38-15 win by six tries to two was deserved because they took their opportunities, two first half tries by forwards Guy Thompson and Kieran Murphy, followed by four in the second from winger Dean Hammond, replacement hooker Michael van Vuuren and backs David Johnston and Luke Daniels.
Doncaster competed ferociously from start to finish and led 10-0 after eight minutes.
Their pack smashed into Ealing’s, and, from a lineout following three penalties, Argentinian No 8, Guido Volpi was driven over.
The conversion by fly-half Sam Olver stretched the lead to 7-0 and three minutes later Olver’s penalty increased the advantage to 10-0.
Ealing recovered strongly and led 14-10 at the interval.
Restored to 15 after winger Kyle Evans returned from his yellow card, Doncaster again began powerfully.
Hooker Will Holling regained the lead at 15-14 on 49 minutes, but after this promising try, Ealing’s strength and speed on the counter-attack produced tries on 51, 56, 66 and 73 minutes to end Doncaster’s ambitions.
Knights coach Steve Boden said: “I’m extremely proud of our performance. We had Ealing rattled for 60 minutes. This was a tremendous team effort.
“Now we aim to put together a strong display against Nottingham when we’ll have our supporters at a home game for the first time in more than a year.”
Ealing Trailfinders: Johnston, Kernohan (Daniels 72), Bodilly, Howard, Hammond, Willis, Burns (Hampson 44), Gibbons (Davis 48), Malton (Van Vuuren 33), Thiede (Whyte 48), De Wee (Linsell 74), Cannon, Northcote-Green (Buckley 25),Thompson, Murphy.
Doncaster Knights: McBryde, Evans, Foley (Newey 22), Edwards (Mitchell 54), Kane, Olver, Warr, Cade (Hislop 52), Holling (Hunter 64), Denman (Jones 55), Challinor (Britton 65), Smith (Joyce 75), Graham, Davies, Volpi.