Doncaster Knights 63 Loughborough Students 14: Students get a rugby lesson

Knights' Dave Nelson. Picture: Marie Caley
Knights' Dave Nelson. Picture: Marie Caley

Doncaster Knights ended up giving Loughborough Students a rugby lesson in their penultimate warm-up game at Thornensians’ Coulman Road ground.

The Championship side ran away with the game in the second half as their extra fitness and class told and with their outside backs proving too hot to handle they ran out 63-14 winners.

It had been a completely story in the first quarter and it could be argued that Knights 24-14 interval lead slightly flattered them.

A lot of the Doncaster supporters who were making their first visit to Coulman Road for some time will have been impressed by the improvements made and the quality of the pitch.

They will have been equally impressed by the way that Loughborough defended in the first half and the way they moved the ball on occasions and took their chances.

Knights forwards struggled to impose themselves in the first 15-20 minutes or so and although they dominated territorially there was a lack of cohesion at times.

Loughborough opened the scoring when scrum-half Jack Moates got away down the right after Doncaster skipper Michael Hills was stripped of the ball, and found half-back partner Owen Waters, who added the extras, up in support.

But for a try-saving tackle by full-back Charlie Foley - who showed up well on several other occasions - on powerful centre Oscar Hirksyi-Douglas, the visitors would have scored even earlier.

Knights continued to make handling errors and lacked a cutting edge and they rarely looked like getting back on terms until the 20th minute – hooker Dave Nelson touching down from a well-worked set-piece at a lineout involving jumper Tom Hicks and Hills.

Wing Dougie Flockhart, helped off later in the half with an ankle injury, added the conversion.

Knights edged in front with an unconverted try on 28 minutes from a driving maul.

Loughborough hit back to lead 14-12 when wing Will Foster raced in after centre Tom Stapley had pulled off an interception inside his own half.

Academy prospect Will Burden – who certainly didn’t look out of place on his starting debut – capitalised on a strong run by wing Tyson Lewis to bag his second try in as many games.

Hooker Curtis Langton touched down near enough for fly-half Simon Humberstone, who showed up well in his first start of the season, to convert after backing up a strong break by flanker Jason Hill down the left.

Knights carried on from where they had left off after the break – though playing with more freedom and composure – with centre Andy Bulumakau touching down out wide.

His brother Junior also got in on the act as Knights exploited their pace out wide with Lewis scoring a couple of well-worked tries on the other flank – the first one on 70 minutes being the pick.

Andy Bulumakua provided the scoring pass for his second at the death, taking a heavy knock in the process.

Academy forward Sam Jones underlined his potential when brushing off a defender to race in from 20 metres.

Morgan Eames also touched down late on in a half during which the Students only had the odd spell of sustained pressure, following good work by Junior Bulumakua.