Doncaster Knights’ flanker Latu Makaafi took his tally to eight in five games when bagging a brace of tries in the club’s 23-17 win over Championship rivals Ealing Trailfinders at Castle Park.
Knights had to work hard for their third win of the season against an Ealing side who have spent a lot of money to try and avoid a repeat of the 2013-14 campaign when they were relegated back to League One after just one season in the Championship, but deserved to take the spoils.
Knights welcomed back full-back Paul Jarvis after a hamstring injury but still lacked the services of four more backs. The visitors, who were making their first visit to Castle Park, had to make several enforced changes to the side which beat Cornish Pirates, with home fans missing out on the chance to see the National League’s record try-scorer, Phil Chesters in action.
Full-back Alex Davies kicked an early penalty and also added the extras to prop Nathan Buck’s 20th minute close-range try while Jarvis was sin-binned for pulling wing James Stephenson back as he sought to regather his kick close to the line.
Knights opened their account on 25 minutes when Michael Heaney, who again filled in at fly-half converted a penalty.
Heaney blotted his copybook when failing to find touch on a couple of occasions in the first half, but again hit the target on 35 minutes after Ealing prop Will Davis was sin-binned and kicked better out of hand in the second.
Had Jarvis not put his foot on the line he would have fancied his chances following a touchline tilt just before the break.
No 8 Ollie Stedman was nailed just short after a typically strong run by wing Rhys Crane.
Knights finally got their noses in front on 47 minutes when good work by Will Hurrell, Stedman and Tyson Lewis created the position from which the ball was moved to the right where Makaafi, who backed himself to score rather than using his support, touched down out wide for a try goaled by Heaney.
The Tongan touched down from a forward drive for another converted try on 56 minutes. When Heaney booted over a 65th minute penalty to make it 23-10 the game looked to be up for Ealing.
But a break from inside his own half by Crane, now playing at centre, ended with wing Calum Wilson brushing off Jarvis close to the line, which led to a few anxious moments for the home side in the last ten minutes.
Doncaster Knights: Jarvis; Edgerley, Clark, Hurrell, Lewis; Heaney, Field; List, Hunter, Armstrong, Challinor, Hotson, Makaafi, Hills, Stedman. Rep: Stagg, Sprotson, John, Phelan, Young, Flockhart, Sharp.
EalingTrailfinders: Davies; Crane, Howley-Berridge, Munro, Stephenson; Roberts, Alex Walker; Davis, Alun Walker, Buck, Hannay, Jones, Preocanin, Kenny, York. Rep: Porter, Thompson, Holford, Jones, Orr, Bliss, Wilson.