Jersey 17 Doncaster Knights 1702/01/2016
A match of two halves in atrocious weather saw the honours end up even, with each side scoring all their points with a gale-force wind at their backs. Jersey clung to their lead throughout the second half but eventually a penalty try late in the game saw the Knights tie the scores.
The wind and driving rain were blowing straight down the pitch at St Peter, and it was a credit to 1,870 spectators who turned out, even if some of them opted for the live-feed in the warmth of the Clubhouse. The crowd included around 150 visiting supporters of whom around 100 had joined the players and coaching staff on a chartered flight from Doncaster's Robin Hood Airport.
The Knights managed some early drives in to the Jersey half but then Jersey began to control possession. An up-and-under by Jersey full-back Rich Lane almost saw the home side break through after being allowed to bounce, and there was another chance to score when Brendan Cope lined up a 35-metre penalty but failed to connect properly.
Both sides were attempting to set up mauls, either from lineouts or directly from tapped penalties, and this led to the opening score for Jersey, a penalty try which also saw Knights' skipper Michael Hills sin-binned for illegal entry.
A Gary Graham try from close range doubled the Islanders' tally and a late penalty from Cope stretched the margin just before the break.
The visitors' attempts to force their way back into the game were frustrated by determined Jersey defence and a lengthy interruption when Ollie Stedman was stretchered from the field with a neck injury.
Eventually the Knights did get on the board with a Flockhart penalty and then replacement Latu Maka'afi claimed a try against his old club, the well-judged conversion by Flockhart reducing the deficit to seven.
Doncaster pounded forward and eventually with two minute to play Jersey committed one offence too many, with Uili Kol'ofa'i seeing yellow for illegally bringing down and a maul and a penalty try serving to level up the scores.
The result saw Jersey rise one place in the league table to fifth, ahead of Nottingham on points difference, while Doncaster stay second and have now extended their unbeaten run to 11 games in all competitions, comprising nine wins and a brace of draws, both against Jersey.
Jersey Head Coach Harvey Biljon was impressed with the defensive commitment of his team in the second half.
"There weren't many coaching points to take away, it was about mental toughness, desire and work-rate," he said. "It was a game we wanted to win, and there was a chance that we might get a penalty shot from the last scrum, but we've taken 17 points from the last phase of five really tough league games, and that's a creditable effort."
Doncaster's Director of Rugby Clive Griffiths praised the effort put in by his players.
"Rugby becomes a lottery in conditions like these, but the boys dug deep and showed great character," he said. "Neither team looked like scoring at one end, although we had a half-chance early in the game. I thought our bench were magnificent and fair play to Dougie Flockhart for landing his kicks at the end."
JERSEY: Lane; Howe, Otto (McCrea 67), Robling, Adair; Cope, Moates (Dudley 71); Lockwood (Lancuba 65), Selway (Garcia-Veiga 55), Tomaszczyk (Herriott 59), Rowlands, Phillips (Kolo'ofa'i 41, YC 78), Graham, Freeman, Rae (c) (Spinks 79).
DONASTER KNIGHTS: Jarvis; Flockhart, Clark, Hurrell, Lewis; Cusack (Humberstone 67), Heaney (Edgerley 67); List (Sproston 62), Hunter (Veikoso 62), Quigley (John 65), Phelan, Challinor (c), Shaw (Maka'afi 55), Hills (c) (YC 24), Stedman (Hotson 56).
REFEREE: Dean Richards (RFU)
Man-of-the-match (as chosen by match sponsor Rathbone's): James Freeman (Jersey)
Half Time: 17-0
Tries: Penalty Try 24, Graham 28
Conversions: Cope 24, 28
Penalty: Cope 39
Tries: Maka'afi 66, Penalty Try 78
Conversions: Flockhart 66, 78
Penalty: Flockhart 61