Doncaster Knights showed plenty of resilience and battling spirit as they kicked off their pre-season programme with defeat to a strong Sale Sharks side.
Hosts Sale emerged with a 31-0 victory but the scoreline did not tell the whole story of an encouraging performance from the Knights who should carry a good deal of confidence heading towards the new Championship campaign.
The Sharks showed their Premiership might by pushing the maul deep to score inside three minutes.
But any fears of the Knights being consistently overpowered were quashed as tough tackling from forwards kept Sale out and caused plenty of frustration for the hosts.
Sale’s Joe Jones and the Knights’ Ben Hunter were both yellow carded after tempers flared.
Josh Strauss eventually added a second try for the hosts before the break after driving over the line.
The Knights had opportunities to get off the mark themselves in the second half when Cameron Cowell was stopped only by a last ditch tackle after being released by Curtis Langdon. And a break from Charlie Foley was halted with a strong tackle.
The Knights applied a good deal of pressure in the second half but met a resilient Sale outfit.
And the hosts managed a further three tries with Cameron Neild bagging a brace while debutant Chris Ashton also went over.
The Knights’ next friendly will see them host Sale FC at Castle Park next Saturday as they build towards the season-opener on September 2 at Cornish Pirates.