Kennedy calls for im­proved dis­ci­pline in play-off re­turn

The Rugby Paper - - News - ■ By GUY WIL­LIAMS

LON­DON Ir­ish de­feated play-off ri­vals Don­caster for the sec­ond time in the league cam­paign, de­spite be­ing re­duced to 13 men for five min­utes in the sec­ond half at Cas­tle Park.

Ir­ish, who re­turn to face the Knights in the semi-fi­nals in a fort­night as favourites to seal pro­mo­tion, won by three tries to one but had to de­fend ro­bustly once full-back Tommy Bell had been sin binned on 65 min­utes fol­lowed by cen­tre Aseli Tikoiro­tuma in the 70th.

How­ever with a de­cent lead of 22-0, Ir­ish never looked like los­ing to a highly com­mit­ted Knights out­fit that de­servedly scored an ex­cel­lent try by winger Tyson Lewis, his 14th in the league, on 80 min­utes.

De­spite fre­quently giv­ing the ball away, Don­caster should have bro­ken through on 73 min­utes, but Lewis ig­nored a three-man over­lap and cut in­side.

Ir­ish, by con­trast, took their scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties as winger Alex Lew­ing­ton touched down on the stroke of half-time af­ter cen­tre Theo Bro­phy Clews had shat­tered Don­caster’s de­fence.

In a pow­er­ful start to the sec­ond half, Ir­ish’s forwards smashed the Don­caster pack and were awarded a penalty try. Soon af­ter, scrum-half Bren­dan McKib­bin shot over to cap­i­talise on the pen­e­trat­ing run by Tikoiro­tuma, and with Bell adding his sec­ond con­ver­sion, they led 22-0.

Don­caster, who’ve reached the play-offs for the sec­ond sea­son run­ning, counter at­tacked with con­vic­tion in the last few min­utes, but they can and must play bet­ter in both legs of the semi­fi­nals if they are to cause an up­set.

Ir­ish coach Nick Kennedy said: “Beat­ing Don­caster means noth­ing. It’s all about the semi-fi­nals now and when we come back here, we know it will be ex­tremely hard.

“We’ve got a cou­ple of play­ers to come back and I can see us get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter. It’s all about peak­ing for the play-offs.

“I’m pleased with this re­sult but our dis­ci­pline needs to im­prove.”

Don­caster, too, should be strength­ened by the re­turn of cen­tre Matt Clark from in­jury and coach Clive Grif­fiths was in a pos­i­tive mood de­spite los­ing again to Ir­ish.

“We asked them a lot of ques­tions, we never gave in and we got out­side them and be­hind them. We can come back from this de­feat, we can play bet­ter with the ball in hand. I can’t fault my play­ers be­cause they put a lot of ef­fort in.”

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