With Cornwall For Cornwall

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Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4LY

Tel: 01736 331961 Email: [email protected]

Doncaster Knights 27

Cornish Pirates 27

23 March, 2024

News & Fixtures

All the Latest News & Fixtures...

League / Cup

Championship Rugby Round 15


Castle Park



Doncaster Knights 27


Cornish Pirates 27

Phil Westren

A Rare Draw Proves Frustrating                                       

By Phil Westren

Doncaster Knights 27   Cornish Pirates 27

Having travelled to Yorkshire for this 4th versus 2nd clash against Doncaster Knights in Round 16 of the Championship, the Cornish Pirates expected a tough contest, and that is how it worked out. However, it was also a game where they were left feeling frustrated not to have won after the home side recovered from being at one stage 22-3 down.

There have certainly been some hard-fought tussles between the two sides over the years, as had been the case when the Pirates lost 39-28 at home to the Knights back in December. An occasion when the visitors deserved their victory, it also reminded the Pirates a challenge lay ahead in this latest encounter, despite the travelling Cornish team having every reason to take confidence from their recent results.

Selection for the Pirates saw fit again Kyle Moyle named at full-back, with Will Trewin moving to the wing. In the forwards Matt Johnson started at tight-head prop, Steele Barker was back to partner Will Britton in the second row, and Hugh Bokenham was this week selected at number 8.

Conditions at the Doncaster team’s Castle Park ground were dry but windy, with the latter all but certain to hamper ambition at times.

Clearly seeking a good start, following a penalty awarded some 30 metres out, the Cornish Pirates opted for a kick to the corner rather than try for three points. Fly-half Bruce Houston duly posted the ball clinically left to within five metres of Doncaster’s line, and from a potent and totally efficient driving maul it was hooker Morgan Nelson who scored the game’s opening try. As for the conversion attempt, to judge how the wind would carry the ball would likely be something of a lottery, and so it proved, as what appeared a perfectly well struck effort from Houston drifted to the left of the posts.

From the restart the Knights immediately looked to threaten, and from a penalty award and then subsequent driving maul play was then worked left to wing George Simpson, who unluckily knocked the ball on.

The Knights continued to press the positivity button, their cause appearing to be helped when the referee, Mr. Sellwood, yellow-carded Will Trewin for making an apparent deliberate knock-on. Deliberate? It’s a funny old law.

Looking as if numerical advantage would soon count, flanker Archie Smeaton and centre Joe Margetts ran strongly for the Knights, and despite play being a little scrappy at times there was a sense that pressure applied by the hosts might well bring reward. For the present, it didn’t, and as play built to halftime it was fair to say that the Pirates were having the better of the first half, with their cause surely helped when Doncaster’s familiar wingman, former ‘Pirate’ Maliq Holden, was suddenly shown a red card.

The Pirates scored a second unconverted try in the match just before the break, when from another driving maul Nelson notched up his 10th try in the league this season, and 16th in all games. Also, right at the end of the half, with determination they denied Doncaster a score of their own by gathering in a mass to shove their driving maul into touch.

So, with the scoreline reading 0-10, a hope was that the Pirates could build on their acquired lead when the second half got underway, even though they got off to a less than ideal start when centre Ioan Evans was yellow-carded and the Knights registered their first points of the afternoon courtesy of a penalty kick slotted by fly-half Russell Bennett.

The Pirates hit back and were awarded a deserved penalty try, and then opened a 19 points gap thanks to the alertness of Steele Barker and then the timing of centre Joe Elderkin’s pass that fed try-scorer Will Trewin. Houston’s conversion attempt from wide on the right narrowly missed, but at least a bonus point was in the bag.

A first try for Doncaster, converted by Bennett, materialised after quick ball from replacement scrum-half Ollie Fox found the hands of centre Connor Edwards, whose then pass was safely taken by scorer Margetts.

Play became a little feisty, leading to the referee speaking to one of his assistants, and then awarding a penalty to the Knights, before dangerman wing George Simpson ran 40 metres to score an excellent converted try.

With just five points separating the sides, it was now game back on. However, on about the hour mark, following aggressive ball carrying by prop Lefty Zigiriadis and flanker Alex Everett, it was a fine offload from Barker that found the hands of Kyle Moyle who scored an unconverted try to make it 17-27.

As play entered the last quarter the outcome was too close to call. The penalty-count against the Pirates appeared to rise and, after Bennett opted to successfully slot one penalty kick through the posts, it appeared that everything was now seemingly going the way of the Knights.

A second former Cornish Pirate in the shape of replacement wing AJ Cant went close to scoring, before a final converted try from Simpson levelled matters – the nowadays rarity of a draw thus proving a frustrating finale for the Cornish side.

Speaking at the end of Saturday’s encounter, Cornish Pirates’ joint head coach Gavin Cattle said:

“It was a frustrating result and some of the penalties against us were tough to take, but I’ll have to watch it back.

“I thought that Kyle Moyle try in response to the one they had just scored was a killer blow, and we’d kick on from there, but it didn’t work out like that and also the impact from the bench wasn’t as expected.

“It is frustrating when you are on the road and you have achieved a bonus point try, but whether it was taking our foot off the gas I’m not sure and, as I said, we will have to watch it back. The physicality from the first half to the second half wasn’t there and is something we’ll also look at. Ultimately, I guess it is simple as we put ourselves in a commanding position but didn’t take the next step.”

Doncaster Knights:   15 Billy McBryde 14 George Simpson 13 Joe Margetts 12 Connor Edwards 11 Maliq Holden 10 Russell Bennett 9 Alex Dolly (22 Ollie Fox, 40); 1 Connor Davidson (17 Harrison Courtney, 63) 2 George Roberts (16 Cameron Terry, 63) 3 Lewis Thiede (Corrie Barrett, 48) 4 Evan Mintern (19 Charlie Beckett, 48) 5 Ben Murphy 6 Fyn Brown (20 Ehize Ehizode, 63) 7 Archie Smeaton 8 Jack Digby (captain; 23 AJ Cant, 57).

Replacement (not used):   Adam Hopkinson

Yellow card:  Fyn Brown (49)

Red card:   Maliq Holden (37)

Cornish Pirates:   15 Kyle Moyle 14 Will Trewin (23 Arthur Relton, 67) 13 Ioan Evans 12 Joe Elderkin 11 Matt McNab 10 Bruce Houston 9 Alex Schwarz (21 Ruaridh Dawson, 50); 1 Lefty Zigiriadis (17 Jack Andrew, 61) 2 Morgan Nelson (16 Rhys Williams, 50) 3 Matt Johnson (18 Fin Richardson, 50) 4 Will Britton (19 Josh King, 67) 5 Steele Barker 6 Alex Everett 7 John Stevens (captain) 8 Hugh Bokenham (20 Will Gibson, 57).

Replacement (not used):   22 Tom Pittman.

Yellow cards:   Will Trewin (24) Ioan Evans (42)


Doncaster Knights – tries: Joe Margetts (53) George Simpson (57, 77) cons: Russell Bennett (53, 57, 77) pens: Russell Bennett (43, 75)

Cornish Pirates – tries: Morgan Nelson (06, 38) Penalty Try (49) Will Trewin (50) Kyle Moyle (62)

Referee:   George Selwood

Assistants:   Simon Park & Gregg Dawson

Attendance:   2012