Kennedy calls for improved discipline in play-off return
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.”