WATCH - Yorkshire Carnegie 19 Doncaster Knights 40: Bonus point just eludes competitive Carnegie
YORKSHIRE Carnegie did their best to frustrate Doncaster Knights but yet again slipped to defeat.
Undoubtedly, no one can fault the spirit of Martyn Wood’s side who remain bottom after a 13th successive defeat of the campaign.
For example, when Guy Graham was sin-binned for a professional foul at the start of the second half, their opponents scored a penalty try from the resulting scrum and Sam Olver’s kick made it 28-5.
From there, it would have been easy to crumble but, through a combination of poor Doncaster decision-making and some decent Carnegie defence, the home side stayed in it.
Indeed, the hosts fought back with two tries of their own and were perhaps unlucky not to at least gain a fourth try and bonus point.
“It was another defeat but the way the lads showed up today, they really put it in,” said director of rugby Martyn Wood.
“In patches it was good. We scored three tries which is a positive. Obviously we didn’t break the 50-point barrier this week.
“I was pleased with the boys’ attitude – like I have been all season – and they way they conducted themselves.
“We just need to keep working at it.
“It was disappointing not to get the fourth try but for heart, for soul and effort, it’s spot on.
“We just need to keep working and turn up next year with that same attitude.”
Tom James’ early brace had made the initial dent in Carnegie and then Robin Hislop added a third before that penalty try.
Steve McColl’s clever kick just before the hour mark saw Tyson Lewis race in for Doncaster’s fifth try before Carnegie made their push. Adam Brown, the 18-year-old hooker who excelled for the home side, benefited from a catch and drive.
And they were in again soon afterwards when their forwards edged closer through pick and go before Sione Faletau finally muscled over. Ryan Shaw converted both only for flanker Alex Humfrey to become their second player yellow-carded, allowing Fotu Lokotui to have the last word.
Carnegie’s first try came in the 36th minute when Tom Varndell, the former England winger who remains the Premiership’s greatest try-scorer, scorched in after Tyson Lewis failed to deal with Joe Ford’s restart.
Carnegie had defended well for long periods, not least when a Doncaster driving line-out seemed certain to end in a visiting try.
The hosts somehow managed to get back on top to halt the momentum and, after tempers frayed, they also earned a penalty from the resulting scrum to leave Knights’ forwards doubly miffed. To make matters worse, Doncaster also infringed at the line-out as Carnegie marched up the other end of the field.
However, Joe Ford’s side never truly forced any pressure of their own.
He made a half-break of his own to set up a promising position but it came to nothing as Graham spilled a couple of phases later.
After one penalty, they won the line-out only for Conor Davidson to be caught not releasing. They could ill-afford to be so wasteful knowing the strength of the Doncaster side.
It was Knights’ first win in six games and eases pressure on them. Director of rugby Clive Griffiths said: “We were absolutely delighted. There was a few rough edges in there today and we’re disappointed with the three tries conceded.
“However, we came for five points, we got the five points and Merry Christmas.
“We got some bodies back this week who were able to train. Unfortunately (lock) Matt Smith had to pull out on Saturday which was disappointing.
“He got another punch to the solar plexus but everyone recovers from that.
“I just thought we put a shift in.
“It was frustrating we didn’t put more points on the board but due respect to the opposition for getting their bodies in the way.
“I thought we were comfortable and I’m just delighted really that we finished off the year with a win and now we can look forward to a much better second half of the season.”