The Reds closed their Championship season with a 13th win - seven of these on the road - to record a second successive fifth-placed finish in English rugby's second tier.
An early try by Auguy Slowik from Scott Van Breda's kick through put the visitors in front, and although skipper Matt Challinor levelled things up from close range, a flurry of points put the Reds 15 clear at the interval. Brendan Cope slotted a penalty, Keiran Hardy raced through a gap and hared to the line, then Van Breda fed Slowik again and this time the winger kicked ahead and won the race to the ball in goal.
The second half was a scrappy affair, but Slowik was able to complete a hat-trick with a good finish in the corner after an assist from - once again - Van Breda.
It looked comfortable for the Reds, but then things started to go wrong with an astonishing five yellow cards, four of them to visiting players, in the last 22 minutes. First of all Slowik was despatched for a deliberate knock-on, then Rory Bartle and Doncaster's Challinor were sent to the cooler for fighting.
The Knights pulled a try back through Cam Cowell and then Jared Saunders saw yellow for a high/dangerous tackle. Knights continued to press and when George Eastwell scrambled in defence to stop a likely try he too was carded with a penalty try awarded and it was 19-27 with still time to play. A minute later Tom James crossed and the deficit was down to just a point.
To the Reds' credit they dug deep and were able to regain some control in the dying minutes, playing the ball mostly in their opponents half. At one stage it seemed the Knights had stolen the ball and broken clear, but the turnover came from an illegal hand in the ruck, spotted by the assistant referee, and Jersey were given a penalty. With time virtually up, Cope elected to go for goal, slotted the kick and finally the game and the season was over. Wins for Bedford Blues, the Pirates and Yorkshire Carnegie meant it stayed 'as you were' in the league table, with the Reds in fifth.
Full report & stats - see HERE
23 Mar 2023
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