London Scottish 20 Doncaster Knights 26: Knights clinch play-off spot
Doncaster Knights booked their place in the Championship Promotion Play-Offs with four games to spare after completing the double over London Scottish at the Athletic Ground.
Knights knew a five-point win would guarantee them a first-ever shot at the Premiership. But there were times when it looked as though the champagne would remain on ice a bit longer.
With the Exiles having won three of their previous four league games, Knights’ boss Clive Griffiths had stressed that his charges would have to concentrate throughout.
But Scottish raced into a 10-0 lead courtesy of a first-minute try by wing Jason Harries, who backed up a break by second-rower Roy Bartle, and two goals by full-back Peter Lydon.
The importance of scoring the next try wasn’t lost on Knights, who did just that to the relief of the travelling fans.
When the Exiles were penalised at the first scrum of the game it gave Knights the chance to go for a catch and drive which resulted in a try for Latu Makaafi.
Declan Cusack, again in at full-back for the injured Paul Jarvis, tagged on the extras to close the gap to three points. Knights opened up a 14-10 lead on the half-hour when Simon Humberstone sent Will Hurrell over for a well-executed try from a lineout.
Scottish were again first out of the blocks after the restart with Harries touching down for his second converted try and Lydon converting prior to kicking a penalty to make it 20-14.
Welsh prop WillGriff John, rewarded good work by Makaafi when forcing his way over from close range.
Wing Andy Bulumakau put his side back in front with a bonus-point try after the ball had been moved wide on the back of good work by hooker Ben Hunter and scrum-half Michael Heaney.
Cusack’s conversion stretched Knights’ lead to 26-20. The Irishman had the chance to open up a nine-point lead on 68 minutes was wide with his penalty attempt.
Wing Tyson Lewis, who had seen his try disallowed for a forward pass minutes earlier, produced one of his most vital tackles of the campaign to deny Harries a hat-trick try in the closing stages of normal time.
London Scottish: Lydon, Harries, Ferguson, Alex Grove, Smith; Newton, Heek; Cosgrove, Kwasnicki, Shields, Bartle, Patrick, Olmstead, Du Plessis, Bright. Rep: Maidment, Hallam, Moran, Carrick-Smith, Oliver Grove, Horne, Packman
Doncaster Knights: Cusack, Bulumakau, Clark,Hurrell, Lewis; Humberstone, Heaney; List, Hunter, Quigley, Challinor, Phelan, Makaafi, Hills, Shaw. Rep: Stagg, Sprotson, John, Hotson, Young, Bryant,Field.
Ref: Matt O’Grady