Doncaster Knights 9 Ealing Trailfinders 24: Plenty of spirit but Knights continue losing run

Doncaster Knights failed to upset the odds in their Championship clash when going down 24-9 against second favourites Ealing Trailfinders at Castle Park.

Saturday, 16th November 2019, 10:16 pm
Updated Sunday, 17th November 2019, 6:09 pm
The Knights' Rob Farrar takes on Earling's Harry Sloan and Craig Willis.

The big-spending London side, who have finished runners-up for the last couple of seasons, won a scrappy game littered with nearly 30 penalties to leave Knights languishing in the bottom three.

But for a side which has now lost five of its last five league games after getting off to a winning start at Hartpury, Knights showed lots of spirit and determination with man-of-the-match George Edgson getting through a lot of work again playing out of position in the back-row.

Prop Robin Hislop also showed up well prior to coming off with a head injury just before half-time.

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Although they again finished empty-handed Knights will take comfort from the fact that they restricted the free-scoring visitors to just three close-range tries from forward drives.

They also managed to make an Ealing side which enjoyed the better of the territorial exchanges look ordinary in attack for long periods.

But as has been the case in several recent games, Knights failed to score a try and lacked a cutting edge in the final third and had to rely on the trusty boot of fly-half Sam Olver for their points.

“We aren’t generating any speed with the ball and not getting on the front foot and that’s why we aren’t scoring tries,” said assistant coach Steve Boden.

It was Olver who opened the scoring when kicking Knights into a 3-0 lead at the start of the second quarter

His opposite number Craig Willis levelled the scores again a couple of minutes later.

Olver kicked Knights into a 6-3 lead when converting another penalty in a half which had little to commend it in terms of excitement even though the pitch played remarkably well given the rain of recent days.

Ealing opened up a 10-6 lead on 39 minutes when flanker Andy Durutalo touched down from a forward drive near enough for Willis to convert.

Olver reduced the interval deficit to 10-9 with a 48m penalty in stoppage time.

That’s the way it stayed until the end of a tight third quarter when prop Will Davis touched down from another forward drive close to the line.

Despite having rarely ventured into Ealing’s 22 since the break, Knights still entertained hopes of at least picking up a losing bonus point until No 8 Rayn Smid forced his way over in the closing minutes.

Second-rower Morgan Eames made the best individual run of the game by a Doncaster player in the closing stages when breaking from his own half and taking play close to the Ealing 22.

Knights: Packman, Evans, Hayes, Foley, Lewis, Olver, James; Hislop, Hunter, Foster, Farrar, Eames, Birch, Edgson, Calladine. Rep: Holling, Thomas, Suter, Conradie, Sproston, Pocklington, Cowell, Doherty.