Doncaster Knights posted their biggest win of the season, beating Connacht Eagles 40-0 in their penultimate B&I Cup Pool Five game at the Sportsground in Galway.
The result, which extended the club’s unbeaten run to 12 games, underlined the fact that not only are Knights the real deal but that they have the squad to challenge for honours in both league and cup.
What the club’s squad lacks in depth compared to the likes of Bristol, it makes up for in terms of fitness, determination and versatility.
There will no doubt be people worried that Knights’ best run in recent years might come to an end in this weekend’s home game against Jersey, which will decide who finishes top of the group, given how close historically games between the two sides have been.
But Clive Griffiths need not be worried about it being a case of ‘unlucky 13’ if his side play to their potential at Castle Park.
Griffiths made numerous changes, some positional, and gave a couple of players their first start of the season and still saw his side score six tries without reply.
The quality of some of the tries will have impressed Griffiths and his coaching team, but the fact that they nilled Eagles will have probably given them even more cause for satisfaction.
By common consent, Knights made hard work of beating a spirited Eagles side 22-5 when they met at Castle Park in November, but they had the game effectively wrapped up, along with a bonus point, by half-time in the return.
Knights took an early lead with leading scorer Latu Makaafi touching down from a catch and drive – a tactic which has become a potent weapon this season
Fly-half Simon Humberstone, who finally made his first start following an injury-hit campaign, made it 7-0 with a conversion from near touch.
Wing Mat Clark broke the Eagles’ line after collecting a return kick and racing through a gap and then providing the scoring pass to Andy Bulumakau who made it 12-0 after 15 minutes.
A second converted try from a driving maul extended their lead and, following a spell of pressure by Eagles, scrum-half Sam Edgerley showed his pace when leaving the cover for dead after supporting a midfield break from a ruck by No 8 Alex Shaw to secure his side a bonus point.
Humberstone again added the extras to leave Eagles trailing 26-0 at the interval and facing a damage-limitation exercise in the second half.
Though disappointed not to have capitalised on a couple of chances to open their account, Eagles will probably have been relieved to concede just two more tries through replacement Michael Hills and centre Bevon Armitage, who finished off a move started deep in the Doncaster half initiated by Clark and replacement fly-half Declan Cusack
Connacht Eagles: Leader; Carr, Brennan, Pewharangi, Gaffney; O’Leary, Lowndes; O’Donnell, Delahunt, Kenny, Gallagher,Qualter. Romaine,Moloney, E McKeon. Rep: Heffernan,Walshe, Kelly, Cosgrove,Kerins, C McKeon, O’Keefe.
Doncaster Knights: Jarvis; Clark, Bulumakau, Armitage, Hurrell; Humberstone, Edgerley; Sprotson, Hunter, John, Young, Phelan, Makaafi, Owen, Shaw.Rep: Brugnara, Quigley, Stagg, Maksymiw Hills, Heaney, Cusack.