Doncaster (A) 30.11.1203/12/2012
Doncaster Knights 22 Jersey 17
Report by Ron Felton (reproduced by kind permission of Jersey Evening Post)
Dreadful starts to both halves condemned Jersey to a narrow
defeat away to Doncaster Knights last night.
And as a result of the 22-17 loss, Knights leap above Jersey, who drop into the RFU Championship's solitary relegation spot.
A gallant battling close to the game earned Jersey a bonus point - while denying Knights an extra one for four tries - and could yet prove vital in the battle to stay in the second tier of English rugby.
That Jersey now trail Knights by three points in the table was a deserved outcome for the home side, who could have won by a greater margin but for their own errors. But a golden period just after half time, during which they added 14 points onto their 8-3 lead secured them victory.
'We didn't deserve to win the game,' admitted Jersey's director of rugby Ben Harvey, adding: 'We made far too many mistakes. It was a dry night, albeit a cold one, but we couldn't afford to make the mistakes we did out there. We committed too many to the breakdown and we had the ball turned over too many times. We've got to recognise when to move the ball on. It's going to be a bitter pill for the lads to swallow, because we felt as though we could win the game. But now we move on and we know what we need to do for the second half of the season.'
Knights led all the way through, taking advantage of a first minute sin-binning of Jersey centre David Bishop for a tackle that poleaxed stand-off Jamie Lennard.
The opening score, however, came from an unexpected source, with Jersey losing a scrum against the head in their own 22, with the ball shooting outside of the Jersey eight, then along from right to left where Knights' winger Tyson Lewis scored in the corner against a reduced back line.
The conversion was missed by Lennard, who had returned to action five minutes after the clash with Bishop.
Jersey were swapping penalty for penalty with the Knights, but while they more than held their own in the scrum they were suffering in the lineouts, losing 50 per cent on the night.
A fine Jersey penalty kick from Michael Le Bourgeois, awarded after a scrum offence, reduced the arrears to 5-3 just before the quarter hour, but Jersey were only rarely looking like breaking through the Doncaster line.
Knights were applying more concerted pressure with the running skills of their new signing, Canada utility back Connor Braid, obviously bringing more firepower to their play. The pressure told and another penalty kick conceded in the 22 gave Lennard the opportunity to extend Knights' lead to 8-3 which it stayed at up to the break.
But any hope that Jersey harboured of winning the game virtually disappeared in a truly dreadful start to the second half when they conceded two tries in a matter of minutes. The first was bad enough, when a penalty was conceded, then a catch and drive from the subsequent line-out was not dealt with effectively, allowing hooker Rhys Buckley to emerge from a pile of bodies as the try scorer.
Jersey had no sooner restarted than they were forced on to the back foot again, although many in the crowd thought they were unfortunate to concede after a rapid passing movement to Knights' left let in winger Douglas Flockhart for a try. Centre Dante Mama looked to have lost control of the ball before Flockhart grounded it, but after consultation with his touchjudge referee Darren Gamage awarded the score. Lennard converted both tries and it looked as if Knights would roar on to a four-try bonus win. But Jersey are nothing if not dogged and strong forward pressure led to a yellow card for Knights' scrum half Chris Hallam and the award of a penalty, for which Jersey took the scrum. From an excellent push, Hallam's opposite number, former Knight Nicky Griffiths, scampered over the from the back of the scrum for Jersey's first try.
Le Bourgeois converted and there was as an inkling of hope at 22-10 down, particularly as, with a flurry of replacements giving them fresh arms and legs in the pack, they began to cause problems.
But Knights, too, showed great heart; and they prevented Jersey creating too much while they had the extra man.
Jersey may have lacked penetration, but not heart. An penalty won by the forwards was quickly launched into Knights' half, but although it soon came back with Thompson kicking through along the right touchline. The ball was squeezed into touch, but quick thinking from Bishop in throwing to straight to the charging Ed Tellwright (below) enabled the winger to romp through and round to the posts. Drop-kicking the conversion himself, as only seconds remained of normal time, the former Rotherham Titans man had brought the score to within five points at 22-17.
A bonus point secured, Jersey made a brave fist of several
minutes of stoppage time in trying to get winning score, but to no
The resuIt was never going to be decisive, but it certainly makes Jersey's job of staying in the division an awful lot harder, even though they are by no means adrift, with that bonus point putting them within two points of Moseley, who Knights also leapt above.
Jersey squad, sponsored by Locate Jersey and jersey.com
1 Richard Barrington
2 Steve Boden
3 Jon Brennan
4 Dave Markham
5 Nathan Hannay (capt)
6 Paul Rodgers
7 Kingsley Lang
8 Guy Thompson
9 Nicky Griffiths (Try)
10 Mike Le Bourgeois (Con, Pen)
11 Ed Dawson
12 Dai Bishop (YC 1)
13 Donovan Sanders
14 Ed Tellwright (Try, Con)
15 Glenn Bryce
16 Dave Felton
17 Sean McCarthy
18 James Gethings
19 James Voss
20 Fred Silcock
21 Dave McCormack
22 Barry Davies