Doncaster 29 Falcons 33

Friday 02 September 2022 Written by: Adam

A nail-biting climax saw the Falcons scoring a penalty try one minute from time, only for the Knights to nudge one point ahead with a quickfire penalty.

But with one play remaining the visitors held their nerve, working the ball from left to right for Radwan to collect Josh Thomas’s scoring pass in a game which had just about everything.

Doncaster led 12-7 at half-time, the Falcons enjoying some early territory and possession but making hard work of turning it into points, kicking a pair of penalties to the corner without return and knocking the ball on from open-field attacks around the Knights’ 22.

The Knights responded with pressure of their own, and were rewarded with the game’s opening try on 15 minutes when a fourth successive penalty was kicked to the right corner. The Falcons defended the maul threat, but when play was spun wide to Maliq Holden the winger was able to wriggle into the right corner for the score.

Fly-half Sam Olver added an impressive touchline conversion, Newcastle growing back into the game and enjoying powerful carries from Nathan Earle, Pete Lucock and Brett Connon.

Earle was bundled into touch five metres short as the visitors worked the ball swiftly along the back line on 25 minutes, but they found their first try just after the half-hour through Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti.

It stemmed from a scrum penalty 40 metres out, which Connon put into touch down the left-hand side. Newcastle rumbled the maul down the tramlines, and when George McGuigan broke from the back the hooker fed an inside offload to the supporting scrum-half, who showed great strength to ground the ball under heavy pressure.

Connon’s conversion drew the sides level, but Doncaster snatched a 12-7 interval lead with the last play of the half when a five-metre scrum was worked infield, the hosts putting a grubber to the left corner which winger George Simpson grounded for an unconverted try.

A purposeful Newcastle side flew out of the blocks for the second half, winning back their own kick-off and earning a pair of home penalties in the home 22, the second of which saw McGuigan scoring from a driving maul.

Connon’s conversion put the visitors two points ahead, but their lead lasted less than two minutes as Doncaster lock John Kelly ploughed over from a close-range pick and go – Olver adding the simple conversion from in front.

Both sides emptied their benches with valuable match minutes an important part of the evening, Newcastle’s barrage of replacements seeing a debut for fly-half Tian Schoeman after more than a year out through injury.

The former Bath man showed some deft tactical kicking as he blew away the cobwebs, his side however still trailing by five as the hour mark ticked by.

Five became 12 after 65 minutes when slick handling down the tramlines saw Robbie Smith rounding off a fabulous team try in the right corner, with Olver slotting the extras once more.

The Knights were reduced to 14 men when Sam Daly was sin-binned for the closing ten minutes, and the Falcons quickly took advantage of their numerical supremacy when Charlie Maddison steered a driving maul over in the right corner.

Schoeman slotted the touchline conversion to reduce the arrears to five, Newcastle going two in front through a penalty try from a driving maul before Alec Lloyd-Seed’s last-minute penalty put Doncaster ahead.

There was still time for a Falcons winner though, when a line-out 20 metres out down the left saw the ball worked along the line, Josh Thomas feeding Radwan for the winning score.

**Newcastle Falcons:** 15 Iwan Stephens, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Pete Lucock, 11 Nathan Earle, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti; 1 Phil Brantingham, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Trevor Davison, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Matthew Dalton, 6 Will Welch (captain), 7 Marcus Tiffen, 8 Carl Fearns.

**Replacements:** 16 Charlie Maddison, 17 Logovi’i Mulipola, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Josh Peters, 20 Jamie Blamire, 21 Josh Barton, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Ewan Greenlaw, [BLANK SHIRTS] Tom Marshall, Josh Thomas.

**Scorers –** Tries: Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, George McGuigan, Charlie Maddison, Penalty try, Adam Radwan. Conversions: Brett Connon 2,Tian Schoeman.

**Doncaster Knights:** 15 Harry Davey, 14 George Simpson, 13 Joe Margetts, 12 Connor Edwards, 11 Maliq Holden, 10 Sam Olver, 9 Alex Dolly; 1 Conor Davidson, 2 George Roberts, 3 Andrew Foster, 4 John Kelly, 5 Ben Murphy, 6 Sam Hudson, 7 Jared Cardew, 8 Thom Smith.

**Replacements:** 16 George Edgson, 17 Maurice Nwakor, 18 Mak Wilson, 19 Ehize Ehizode, 20 Sam Daly, 21 Joe Green, 22 Fraser Strachan, 23 Robbie Smith, Karl Garside, Will Yarnell, Will Holling, Jack Spittle, Alec Lloyd-Seed.

**Scorers -** Tries: Maliq Holden, George Simpson, John Kelly, Robbie Smith. Conversions: Sam Olver 3. Penalties: Alec Lloyd-Seed

**Referee:** Hamish Smales. **Attendance:** 1,225.

*Photo c/o Dave Harbon.*