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Doncaster RLFC 36-20 York Knights - Match Report

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York Knights opened their 2024 Betfred Championship with a 36-20 defeat to Doncaster RLFC at the Eco-Power Stadium.

York fell 12-0 behind inside the opening quarter, with Tom Halliday and Ben Johnston touching down, but fought back to trail by just two points at the break thanks to tries from Jack Teanby and AJ Towse shortly before half-time.

The Knights were unable to build on their strong finish to the first half however as Halliday, Pauli Pauli and Sam Smeaton found their way over in the dozen minutes after the restart.

Josh Daley and Tom Lineham tries left the Knights trailing by 10 points but a second Pauli score killed any hopes of a comeback.

The two sides went set-for-set in a tight first quarter of an hour, with Doncaster’s most dangerous chance coming when Halliday could only watch Craig Hall’s pass to the left sail into touch.

The same combination combined effectively minutes later though as, after the ball went through the hands of half-backs Connor Robinson and Johnston, Hall’s cut-out ball put Halliday over the whitewash.

Robinson added the two points, the first of five conversions from six attempts. 

Doncaster doubled their lead in the next set when Robinson’s towering bomb forced Towse to backpedal and fumble the ball into the path of Johnston to slide in.

The Knights found their way back into the contest before half-time though, with two quick-fire tries leaving them just two points behind at the break.

Three penalties in quick successful set up the field position for Richie Myler to float up a kick which the Dons backline failed to deal with, allowing Teanby to touch down.

Myler was then central to York’s next score, his kick ahead and the stern Knights chase putting Hall into touch. That gave the visitors the impetus to send the ball down the left through Joe Brown’s tip pass, putting Towse in at the corner.

Nikau Williams converted the former try for a 12-10 lead at half-time.

York were unable to maintain their late second-half momentum after the restart however, with Doncaster forcing an error from stand-in captain Jimmy Keinhorst from the short kick-off.

From there, the Dons worked the ball to the posts where ex-Knight Pauli could barge over to the right of the sticks from a Greg Burns short pass.

Doncaster then reasserted their 12-point lead as Hall and Halliday combined once more, the former throwing a wide pass to the winger who stepped back inside to ground for his second.

The hosts then moved into a three-score advantage, this time profiting down their right flank. Robinson’s high kick was tipped back by Luke Briscoe into Smeaton who found enough room in the corner to score.

Robinson landed a penalty goal after the hour to stretch the lead out to 20 points.

The Knights did manage to reduce arrears thanks to two tries in four minutes. Josh Daley burrowed over from close range before new signing Tom Lineham leapt in at the right corner, cutting the gap to 10 points.

But the final word belong to Doncaster however as Pauli charged over in the final minute.

Doncaster: Hall, Briscoe, Lyne, Hey, Halliday, Johnston, Robinson, Knowles, Burns, Matagi, Sutcliffe, Smeaton, McConnell

Subs (all used): Pauli, Hepi, Boas, Ferres

18th Player: Guzdek

Tries: Halliday (17’, 48’), Johnston (20’), Pauli (42’, 80’), Smeaton (52’)

Goals: Robinson (6/7)

York: Brown, Lineham, Harrison, Keinhorst, Towse, Williams, Myler, Ta’ai, Jubb, Fitzsimmons, Field, Bailey, Nicholson-Watton

Subs (all used): Teanby, Michael, Daley, Hingano

18th Player: Reynolds

Tries: Teanby (33’), Towse (37’), Daley (68’), Lineham (72’)

Goals: Williams (2/4)


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