After dominating their opponents at scrum-time throughout the Pool 5 British & Irish Cup game, it seemed fitting that Jersey's pack earned the chance to win the game for their side.
With time up, the Knights scrum crumpled under pressure from the Jersey eight, and it was inevitable the referee would raise his arm. But sadly for the home side Brendan Cope's kick slid agonisingly wide of the uprights, and Jersey had to be content with a draw, each side earning two points apiece.
The game was preceded by a minute's silence to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in Paris
Losing finalists in last season's B&I, Doncaster had made the most of a strong wind at their back to score three tries in the first half. Winger Tyson Lewis crossed within 90 seconds of the start, racing down the wing after the ball was fed wide, and added a second after a mazy crossfield run by debutant full-back Tim Wigglesworth.
The Knights moved further ahead when David Clark raced up the wing and chipped over the covering defence. The bouncing ball eluded Jersey full-back Aaron Penberthy and Wigglesworth was on hand to claim the ball and touch down.
Jersey did claw back five points thanks to Tom Howe's try after a Fautua Otto break, but were otherwise hampered by a malfunctioning lineout, and the visitors' lead was up to 17 points by half-time thanks to a Dec Cusack penalty.
The home side began purposefully after the break and within two minutes Ross Adair was able to score on the left wing after taking Lewis Robling's pass. Adair then had a hand in his side's third try, taking the ball on after a charging run from replacement Sam Lockwood and popping the ball to Nick Haining who scored.
The Knights' lead was down to three points, and Brendan Cope soon wiped it out with a confident penalty.
With around 15 minutes to play, another penalty from the restart offered the perfect chance for Jersey to exert more pressure, but Cope's kick failed to find touch, and a later opportunity was lost after a handling error.
Jersey's scrum had been dominant all afternoon and a prodigious drive led to a penalty chance for Cope from 40 metres, but the kick slid agonisingly wide.
Jersey Head Coach Harvey Biljon praised his side's fightback: "Things didn't go to plan in the first half, with some teething problems after the changes to our pack, and the conditions didn't help, but to come from 22-5 down and get into a position where we could have won it was impressive, and we scored some brilliant tries.
"There was some good impact from the bench and I was really happy to see our three new signings do so well - Oliver Tomaszczyk put in a great 40 minutes, and both Will Rowlands and Uili Kolo'ofa'i played the full 80 and made excellent contributions.
"Two points away from home is a decent effort and I couldn't ask for any more from my team, there were 12 changes and those who came in played manfully and got some good game-time," said Knights Director of Rugby Clive Griffiths. "We had the better lineout, and Jersey had the edge in the scrum, so that made it a pretty even contest.
In the other game in Pool 5, the Dragons Select XV made an impressive start away from home, claiming a bonus point in beating Connacht Eagles 10-34 at the Sportsground in Galway.
Jersey Athletic's Zoo Shield tie against Esher had to be called off with the visiting side caught up in the security alert at Gatwick Airport and being unable to continue their onward journey.
JERSEY: Penberthy, Howe, Otto (Cooke 54), Robling, Adair, Cope, Fisilau (Moates 59); Lancuba (Lockwood 52), Garcia-Veiga (Selway H-T), Tomaszczyk (Herriott H-T), Rowlands, Kolo'ofa'i, Rae (c), Freeman (Graham 71), Haining. Not used: Spinks.
DONCASTER: Wigglesworth (Eggerley 76), Clark, Bulumakau, Bryant, Lewis, Cusack (Olver 54), Field; Bergmanas (Sproston 64), Veikoso (Stagg 70), John (Armstrong 64-72), Hotson, Young, Challinor (c) (Makaafi 64), Owen, Shaw. Not used: Phelan.
REFEREE: Fergus Kirby (RFU)
Man-of-the-match (as chosen by match sponsor Comprop): Ross Adair (Jersey)
Half Time: 5-22
Tries: Howe 26, Adair 42, Haining 60
Conversions: Cope 42, 60
Penalty: Cope 63
Tries: Lewis 2, 20, Wigglesworth 24
Conversions: Cusack 20, 24
Penalty: Cusack 38
23 Mar 2023
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