Newcastle Falcons 34 Doncaster Knights 10: Championship leaders too strong for Knights
Doncaster Knights failed to clip the wings of unbeaten Championship leaders Newcastle Falcons as they went down 34-10 in their first outing of 2020 at Kingston Park.
But the visitors gave a better account of themselves than they had done when going down 57-0 in their Championship Cup Pool 2 clash on the same ground in September.
Knights, who gave a starting Championship debut to former Academy hooker Will Holling, made a spirited start and took the game to a Newcastle side looking a good bet to make an immediate return to the top flight.
Although they rarely broke the quick-spotting Newcastle defensive line, Knights enjoyed the better of the territory and possession in the first 20 minutes and took a deserved lead when fly-half Sam Olver booted over a 14th minute penalty.
Falcons started to get on top in the second quarter and scored three unconverted tries in the last ten minutes or so - two coming from lineouts – to claim a 15-3 interval lead.
Knights substituted Olver, who had taken a heavy knock trying to stop Newcastle’s third try, at the start of the second half with Charlie Foley switching to fly-half.
Falcons swooped to claim a fourth try in the first minute of the half from a kick prior to back-rower Wian Conradie returning from the sin-bin.
Falcons continued to blow hot and cold prior to scoring another close-range try on the hour to make it 27-3.
Knights stuck to their task with their forward substitutions playing their part, and a strong break by Fotu Lokutui created the position from which skipper Matt Challinor eventually forced his way over from close range for a try converted by Foley on 73 minutes.
A wayward pass by centre Lloyd Hayes Knights gifted Falcons an injury-time converted try.
Knights: McColl, Packman, Hayes, Foley, Lewis, Olver, James; Thomas, Holling, Foster, Challinor, Pitman, Calladine, Conradie, Stedman. Rep: Edgson, Quigley, Sproston, Eames, Lokutui, Pocklington, Cowell, Evans.