Knights top-five hopes hit by heavy away loss

On the losing side: Dougie Flockhart, far right, could not stop Knights from slipping up last night
On the losing side: Dougie Flockhart, far right, could not stop Knights from slipping up last night

DONCASTER Knights’ hopes of a top-five finish to their Championship campaign suffered a setback in last night’s rearranged game against Nottingham at Meadow Lane.

Knights fell to eighth as the hosts climbed above them after a bonus points win.

The visitors handed lock Dan Smith his starting debut following his return to the club after a career-threatening back injury but he lasted just eight minutes before limping off with what appeared to be a leg injury.

The home side, who had come more into the game at that stage, opened the scoring two minutes later with a 40 metre penalty by fly-half James Arlidge. The half-back hit the target with a slightly more difficult kick from a similar distance on 13 minutes to make it 6-0.

Nottingham’s handling and lines of attack continued to be better than Knights at this stage and the visitors were being forced to dig deep defensively.

Knights’ cause wasn’t being helped by the fact that they were continuing to concede penalties at regular intervals and Arlidge extended Nottingham’s lead on 19 minutes with an angled 25 metre penalty.

Nottingham then opened them up down the right and winger Alex Lewington took advantage of some poor tackling close to the line to score the first try of the game. Arlidge added the extras to make it 16-0.

There would have been a second try for Lewington on 38 minutes had he held on to the ball after intercepting fly-half Mike Whitehead’s pass from a scrum heel inside the visitor’s 22.

Knights best move for some time fizzled out when Zack Farivarz elected to kick just inside the Nottingham half rather than use winger Ben Toft on his outside.

Any comeback hopes that Knights might have entertained at the break were effectively dashed within four minutes of the restart when second-rower Nick Rouse raced in for a try, goaled by Arlidge, after intercepting No 8 Chris Planchant’s one-handed pass 22 metres out.

Knights came back strongly and were given a lift when Nottingham were reduced to 14 men on 62 minutes when second-rower Lee Morley was sin-binned.

Knights wasted little time in cashing in on their numerical advantage, hooker Steve Boden diving over from close range for a 65th minute try, converted by Dougie Flockhart.

Arlidge made it 26-7 with a fourth penalty on 71 minutes while Flockhart also crossed five minutes later. Gidlow was sin-binned in the closing stages during which time Arlidge and Andew Forsyth both grabbed converted tries.