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Nottingham 24 vs Doncaster Knights 3 - Match Report

Nottingham Rugby produced their best all round performance of the season so far as they vanquished local rivals Doncaster Knights 24-3 at Meadow Lane to secure fourth place in the Championship at Christmas.

The Green and Whites dominated the first 20 minutes of the match, spending almost the entire time in Doncaster territory.  The only surprise was that it took until the 15th minute for them to open the scoring.

When it did come, it was worth waiting for as some excellent handling involving both forwards and backs led to Javiah Pohe going over in the corner.  Dan Mugford added the very difficult conversion to make it 7-0.

Doncaster gradually came back  into the game and put together phase after phase as they crept back into the Nottingham half.  The green and white wall held firm though and restricted Doncaster to a solitary shot at goal which Dougie Flockhart pushed wide.

Nottingham were playing with a cohesion not witnessed often enough this season with their outside backs looking particularly threatening.  Dan Mugford was pulling the strings at fly half and Javiah pohe was inspired at inside centre.  They utilised the wrap around on a number of ocassions, requiring the visitors to make last ditch interventions to prevent further scoring.

The match got a bit scrappier during the second quarter of the match and both teams were guilty of coughing up possession.  The referee provoked the ire of the crowd as he continually allowed Doncaster to not roll away at the breakdown but then penalised Nottingham for going off their feet.

The many infringements at the breakdown led to a yellow card for both sides as Montagu and List were given 10 minutes at the end of the half.  There was still time in the half though for Billy Robinson to score an excellent try as he weaved through a couple of tackles and sprinted in from 40 metres to touch down.  Mugford missed the conversion attempt to make the scores 12-0 at the break.

Early in the second half, Nottingham conceded a penalty in front of their posts which Flockhart converted to make the score 12-3.

This wasn't to be a sign of things to come however as Nottingham upped their game again and took control with some hard running and rigid defending.

Shaun Malton made a number of excellent forays through the visiting defence and he was ably supported by the athleticism of Paul Grant and the silky handling skills of Montagu.

Nottingham's third try of the afternoon was something to behold.  A slick display of handling and running skills saw Nottingham break down the right wing with first Pohe and then Hough making good yards to take play up to the Doncaster 22.  The ball was recycled quickly and another fine bit of handling saw Robinson break through and offload to Rupert Cooper who pirouetted away from his man to touch down.  Mugford was just wide with the conversion and the score moved to 17-3.

The Green and Whites held the aacendency up front all afternoon and this told when a traditional rolling maul ended up with skipper Brent Wilson being driven over the line to secure the bonus point.  Mugford landed the extras to take the score to 24-3.

Doncaster rallied as Nottingham began to tire but there was clear evidence that the home side were determined not to concede a try.  This was particularly evident as Doncaster burst through and looked certain to score until Billy Robinson made an outstanding last ditch tackle.  It had seemed easier for Doncaster to score, but the tackle confused the ball carrier to the degree he couldn't get the offload away.

Doncaster, to their credit, continued to push but Nottingham were heroic in defence.  Skipper Brent Wilson, who was named man of the match, led a rearguard action that had the Meadow Lane faithful in full voice as they sang their approval.

The match ended with Wilson forcing a turnover on Nottingham's own line and it was left to replacement Will Maisey to kick the ball off the field to secure an excellent victory and fourth place in the league at Christmas.