Doncaster Knights lack quality in finishing, but make unbeaten Newcastle Falcons work hard for win
Doncaster Knights failed to deliver an early Christmas present for their supporters in their last home game of the year.
But unbeaten Newcastle Falcons were made to work far harder for their 43-14 Championship Cup Pool 2 win in the return at Castle Park than they had when romping home 57-0 at Kingston Park.
Knights, for whom hooker Ben Hunter was making his 150th appearance for the club, wanted to show Falcons that they are a better side than they looked on the day at Kingston Park. They did that and more.
Things didn’t get off to the best of starts for Knights with fly-half Joel Hodgson, who also added the extras, sending over Fijian wing George Wacokecoke in from 15 metres out in the opening minutes with an inside pass.
Adopting an expansive game-plan, Knights quickly started to take the game to Falcons and had the quality of their finishing matched that of their approach work they would have had more than one first-half try to show for their efforts.
That came when they were awarded a penalty try following an infringement at a driving maul, which saw prop Sam Lockwood sin-binned.
Despite being a man down, Falcons opened up a 10-7 lead courtesy of a Hodgson penalty.
Falcons finished the half strongly and touched down for a second try on the stroke of half-time after been denied by some terrific try-line defence for several minutes.
Falcons opened up a 22-7 lead in the opening minutes of the second when Wacokecoke cut past a couple of defenders at pace out wide and rode Tom James’ cover tackle on the line to score.
Knowing they needed to score next, Knights did that when James, who formed a lively half-back partnership with Sam Olver, touched down from close range.
Olver added the extras to cut Newcastle’s lead to 22-14. Unfortunately for Knights that was as good as it got.
Hooker George McGuigan celebrated his 100th appearance with a close-range try on 56 minutes. Wing Ben Stevenson then raced over 70 metres after intercepting a pass prior to Wacokecoke completing his hat-trick late on. He had earlier intercepted an inside pass by opposite number Howard Packman.