KNIGHTS: Davey’s derby post-mortem

Knights' Michael Noone tries to break through tackles at Rotherham
Knights' Michael Noone tries to break through tackles at Rotherham

KNIGHTS director of rugby Brett Davey has blamed a mad ten minutes on his side’s derby day defeat at Rotherham.

The Titans scored two tries while Doncaster fly half Tom Luke sat in the sin bin, opening up a margin the Knights were not able to close.

Davey told the Free Press: “It was so frustrating because we actually played quite well apart from a ten minute spell when we were down to 14 men.

“We made problems for ourselves more than anything – that’s what makes it a difficult one to take.

“There are re-occuring problems of mental lapses and hopefully we can put them to bed.

“I was really pleased with lots of things that we did because we kept coming and working hard.

“But we gave ourselves a mountain to climb by going 17-0 down.”

The Knights were under pressure in the early stages only for excellent defending kept the attack at bay.

But Rotherham were handed an advantage when Luke was yellow carded for hands in the ruck and his opposite number Garry Law made no mistake with the penalty.

Luke’s absence left the Knights exposed and when an attempted clearance from David McIlwaine was sliced straight into Rotherham lines, rising star Robin Copeland burst through a static defence to score, Law converting

The gaping hole in the back line was exploited once more minutes later when Copeland latched onto a misplaced pass on the wing and ran 60 metres to touch down in the corner, Law adding the extras to give the hosts a 17-0 lead at half time.

Luke slotted over a penalty after the break but Rotherham hit back with Law slotting over a drop goal and a penalty from 50 yards.

The Doncaster defence improved to frustrate Rotherham while Luke continued his atonement by adding a consolation try and conversion after Michael Keating set him free.

Some supporters felt aggrieved by decisions from referee Dean Richards, feeling Luke’s yellow card was harsh and that Rotherham could have had men sin-binned as well.

But Davey refused to put any blame at Richards’ door.

He said: “I thought the referee had a good game to be honest and there is no way he can be blamed.

“There were one or two little things we did that lost it for us – we lost the game ourselves.

“And the Rotherham back row scored two great tries so take nothing away from him.”

The match saw Fred Burdon make his first Championship appearance when he came of the bench to replace the injured McIlwaine.

Davey said: “I thought Fred Burdon did really well and he has done since he came down here.

“It was a tough ask for him to go on at the stage he did, when we were behind the eight ball so to speak.

“David McIlwaine got an injury to his hip and we’re waiting to see how he’ll be.

“We picked up a few knocks at Rotherham, to Zack Farivarz and Tom Luke, and we’re just trying to get them right for the weekend.”

Attention now quickly switches to the visit of Championship giants Cornish Pirates.

Davey said: “It’s going to be really tough on Saturday because you’re talking about a side that are right to the top.

“There’s a massive difference between us in terms of budget – you’re talking probably a difference of a million pounds and that’s what you’re competing with.

“But it comes down to 15 versus 15 when you get out on that pitch and we’ll see who is best over the 80 minutes on Saturday.”