Jersey 22 Doncaster Knights 22: Knights held by Jersey rally

Tyson Lewis - two tries for Doncaster. Picture Scott Merrylees
Tyson Lewis - two tries for Doncaster. Picture Scott Merrylees

Doncaster Knights had to settle for a share of the spoils in their opening B & I Cup Pool 5 game as Jersey came from behind to claim a 22-22 draw.

The Channel Islanders always looked the side most likely to break the deadlock after fly-half Brendan Cope had levelled the scores early in the final quarter with a penalty, and could have done so had he converted a 40m penalty deep into stoppage time.

A draw was probably a fair result given the fact that the much-changed Knights dominated the first half when they had the wind and the home side controlled the second when they had the elements in their favour.

Only four of the Doncaster side which had stunned Championship leaders Bristol a week earlier started the game.

They included centre Mat Clark, who moved out to the wing.

Jersey, who also boasted an impressive away win last time out, named an unchanged back division but made changes up front in order to accommodate three new faces.

Knights got off to a flying start with fly-half Declan Cusack and flanker Will Owen combining to set-up wing Tyson Lewis for a second-minute try.

Lewis, who had taken his chance well. then capitalised on good work by No 8 Alex Shaw and full-back Jim Wigglesworth, to claim a second try. Taking over the kicking duties from the rested Dougie Flockhart, Cusack added the extras to make it 12-0.

Knights extended their lead when Clark broke from inside his own half before kicking towards the line. Jersey full-back Aaron Penberthy looked well placed to clear the danger but when he failed to do so Wigglesworth took full advantage to claim side’s second converted try.

Playing down the slope, Jersey hit back with an unconverted try by wing Tom Howe following a strong break by powerhouse centre Faulua Otta

Knights regained the initiative in the final minutes of the half and when Cusack landed a late penalty they looked to have enough points in hand to weather any second half comeback.

But that’s not the way the game turned out. They conceded a second try within a couple of minutes of the restart and that served to give Jersey a lift.

Knights, who had replaced Cusack with Sam Olver five minutes earlier, continued to find themselves on the back-foot and the alarm bells started to ring ever louder when No 8 Nick Haining touched down for a converted try on the hour.

Griffiths brought on top try-scorer Latu Makaafi as part of a triple substitution soon after Cope had levelled the scored, but he never looked like adding to his account.

Jersey: Penberthy; Howe, Otto, Robling, Adair, Cope, Fisilua; Lancuba, Garcia-Veiga, Tomaszczyk, Kolo’ofa’i, Rowling, Rae, Freeman, Haining. Rep: Lockwood, Selway, Herriott, Spinks, Graham, Moales, Cooke.

Doncaster Knights: Wigglesworth, Clark, Bulumakau, Bryant, Lewis; Cusack, Field; Bergmanas, Veikoso, John, Hotson, Young, Challinor, Owen, Shaw. Rep: Stagg, Sprotson, Armstrong,Phelan, Makaafi, Olver, Edgerley.

Att: 1,772