Jersey travelled to Castle Park, home of Doncaster Knights
knowing that only a win would be good enough, and that is what they
got. In a battle of 10th vs 11th, with both sides entering the
encounter on the back of a series of defeats this was the
proverbial '6 pointer' of the round (technically 8 in rugby
A tense encounter in difficult wet and cold conditions was
always likely to throw up a few headlines, and any mistake could
have been the deciding factor.
Jersey kicked off, and the Knights in receipt of the ball were
quick out of the blocks, eager to impose some dominance on the
visitors. After a series of moves and coming agonisingly close to a
score, Doncaster then opted to kick the 2nd of two penalties won at
a scrum when camped on the Jersey try line after 9 minutes. Up
stepped Dougie Flockhart to give the hosts the early lead.
The lead was short-lived as Jonny Bentley levelled things up
with a penalty of his own. Jersey then took the lead through a
trademark 'catch and drive' from a lineout after Bentley had put
the Reds into striking distance with a carefully stroked penalty to
touch in the corner. It was Williams who was credited with his
debut score for the visitors; Bentley added the extras and the lead
As the weather worsened and it started to sleet, Bentley added a
second penalty, but this didn't last long as Flockhart doubled the
Knights tally with a penalty kick after Sami Fisilau had been
adjudged to have made a high tackle on his own 22 - (6-13).
There then ensued a short period of even play, in spite of
Jersey's increasing dominance in the forwards due to a significant
weight advantage. The deadlock was broken when McCrea pounced on a
Knights' mistake to put through a grubber kick that Drew Locke
touched down. Bentley again converted and at 6-20 the visitors were
starting to look in control.
Picture courtesy of JEP
When Jersey won another penalty, Bentley again went to the
corner. Nick Campbell caught the first line out and as the driving
maul came to an end, the referee called the sides back for an
earlier infringement, awarded the visitors another penalty and
dispatched Matt Challinor to the bin.
Noone took the ball cleanly, but unfortunately the maul broke down
again as again Knights were penalised, and this time Jersey opted
for 3 points to extend the lead to 6-23.
Penberthy replaced an injured McCrea and with the clock already
showing 40 minutes, Doncaster converted their 3rd penalty of the
afternoon to go in at the break trailing by 9-23.
From the restart and with the weather worsening, Doncaster came
out all guns blazing. Just after Challinor returned to the fray,
Joe Buckle picked up a yellow card as Jersey desperately
The Knights scored their only try of the afternoon when
scrum-half Tomasi Palu took a quick penalty on the Jersey 22 and
dodged a couple of tackles before dotting down. Flockhart converted
to make it 16-23.
Restored to 15 men, Jersey then made a foray into the Knights'
half and when gifted another penalty within range, Bentley stepped
up to extend the lead again to 10 points.
Back came the Knights exerting more pressure and increasingly
battering a defiant Jersey defence who were tackling as though
their life depended on it (not far from the truth!). With 5 minutes
to go Bentley saw yellow and Flockhart converted the subsequent
penalty to tee up a grand finale, with the host trailing by only a
converted try and the score poised at 19-26.
The Knights won a penalty and kicked to the corner, and with a
man advantage were looking for the vital score, but Haining stole
possession (not for the first time) and Jersey cleared. With the
kick not making touch, back charged Doncaster, running at the
Jersey defence from all angles, but the Reds weren't about to give
up this lead and duly held on through the rest of added time to
take the win.
After the final whistle Biljon paid credit to the resilient
display from the whole team when put under pressure at the end. He
also expressed pleasure with the way that Fisilau had slotted in
with a good debut performance after less than a week on the
Doncaster: Paul Jarvis, Dougie Flockhart, George
Catchpole, Bevon Armitage, Tyson Lewis, Paul Roberts, Tomasi Palu;
Richard List, Harry Thacker, Colin Quigley, Matthew Challinor, Jon
Phelan, Laurence Pearce, Michael Hills (capt), Alex Shaw
Replacements: Jack Bergmanas, Ben Hunter, Ross Davies,
Tyler Hotson, Latu Makaafi, Piers Francis, Bruno Bravo.
Jersey: Grant Pointer, Mark Foster, Drew Locke,
Lewis Robling, Mark McCrea, Jonny Bentley, Samisoni Fisilau; Sam
Lockwood, Joe Buckle, Harry Williams, Pierce Phillips, Nick
Campbell, Michael Noone, Ryan Hodson (capt), Nick Haining.
Replacements: Nick Selway, Ignacio Lancuba, Danny
Herriott, Dave Markham, Paula Kaho, Ryan Glynn, Aaron
REFEREE: Simon Harding (RFU)
Star man: Samisoni Fisilau - Jersey
Half Time: 9-23
Conversion: Flockhart 1
Penalties: Flockhart 4
Tries: Williams, Locke
Conversions: Bentley 2
Penalties: Bentley 4
29 Sep 2023
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