Doncaster Knights 25 Cornish Pirates 44: Injury hit Knights swept aside by Pirates

Cornish Pirates again plundered the spoils at Castle Park as they claimed a 44-25 win and inflicted Doncaster Knights’ first home defeat of the season.

Sunday, 20th October 2019, 1:48 pm
Updated Sunday, 20th October 2019, 7:12 pm
Johnny McPhillips scored one of the Knights' three tries in the defeat to Cornish Pirates

Knights knew that they would have to be at their best against a Pirates side – which had produced a stunning 30-10 win over second favourites Ealing Trailfinders last time out – if they were to build on their win over Hartpury in their opening Championship fixture.

Sadly, for the biggest crowd of the season, they were not.

Once again injuries served to disrupt their pack with Matt Smith and Ollie Stedman both coming off in the second-half but they couldn’t use that as an excuse.

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Knights played well at times in both attack, where wings Tyson Lewis and Kyle Evans both showed up well as did scrum-half Tom James, and defence, but didn’t match Pirates in either area consistently.

They had no one to match former Argentinian international fly-half Javier Alvarez.

He scored a try and set up two others in addition to converting all but one of his kicks at goal – the first coming in the second-minute.

Knights hit the front when the ball was moved at pace from a line out on the Pirates 22 and Evans broke the line at pace before getting a pass out to full-back Johnny McPhillips who cut in to score from close range.

Pirates quickly regained the lead when Alverez took his chance well after Pirates looked to move the ball after their forwards had failed to find a way over the line.

The half-back, who again tagged on the conversion to give his side a flattering 17-5 lead, chipped the ball through for fellow countryman Nick De Battista to touch down.

Knights often looked dangerous when they got the ball out wide and bagged a second try when centre Pete Lucockl sent Lewis racing in down the left.

Fly-half Sam Olver, who had celebrated his 25th birthday two days earlier, added the conversion. The half-back also kicked an injury-time penalty after Pirates had extended their lead with a close-range converted try.

Knights fell further behind early in the second half when both sides were down to 14 men, when wing Alex O’Meara - who would have scored at the end of the first but for a superb cover tackle by Evans - won the race to another clever kick by Alvarez.

Knights clawed their way back from a 31-15 deficit with a converted try by George Edgson and an Olver penalty leaving them just six points adrift going into the final quarter.

But that was as close as it got and apart from when Maliq Holden produced a try-saving cover tackle to deny Lewis from a Cam Cowell break, Knights never looked like picking up any bonus points after Alvarez had kicked two penalties prior to Callum Patterson’s stoppage-time try.

Knights: McPhillips, Evans, Lucock, Foley, Lewis, Olver, James; Hislop, Hunter, Quigley, Hicks, Smith, Eames, Hills, Stedman. Replacements: Edgson, Thomas, Foster, Calladine, Sproston, Cullen, Cowell, Hayes.