Cardiff’s British and Irish cup hopes took a dent at Castle Park as Doncaster ran in 27 unanswered second half points.
The game had started as badly as it finished. Within 26 seconds the Knights were on the scoreboard. The Blue & Blacks did not gather the kick off cleanly, the ball was re-cycled by the home forwards and scrum half Matthew Darcy nipped through a gap in the defence to score. The try was converted by Alistair Warnock for a 7- nil lead before most of the crowd had taken their seats.
Following that initial shock, the rest of the first half belonged to the visitors. Cardiff began to gain control of the ball through the forwards, and with Gareth Davies and Tom Slater taking the correct options the territory came too. The reward was a penalty chance that Davies landed to not only put the visitors on the scoreboard but also notch up his 500th point for the Blue & Blacks.
Cardiff were all over the Knights as the ball was moved from one side of the field to the other. Only strong defence was keeping the visitors from adding to their tally. Backs and forwards were combining to make inroads into Doncaster’s twenty-two only for the cover to scramble across and stop Ryan Howells scoring.
As the attacks grew in number so the penalty count increased and it was no surprise when David Griffiths was singled out for several team offences and sent to the sin-bin. The resultant penalty though drifted just wide of the uprights and was cleared to the halfway line. From the lineout the forwards showed their intent with a driving maul that went 30 metres, again illegally brought to a halt. This time Cardiff went for the corner. It nearly paid off with Ian George being held up over the line.
It was his front row friend that had the next say in the game. Kristian Gay had given his opposite number a real going over in all the previous scrums, this time the referee had had enough and sent him for a ten minute rest.
With ‘Donny’ down to thirteen a score seemed inevitable, and so it proved, but in an unlikely way. Cardiff opted for the scrum, but the ball squirted out to Gareth Davies. He put in a cross-field kick that looked for all the world like it would go dead, but a rugby ball is a strange shape, and as it bounced inches from the dead ball line it leaped back into the arms of Ryan Howells for the touchdown. Davies converted and the visitors were 10-7 up at half time.
The second half can only be described as a nightmare. It started as badly as the first, Doncaster getting three points within seconds of the re-start to level things. Minutes later they were in front with a try by winger Andrew Wright, Warnock converting and adding another penalty for a ten point advantage.
Cardiff simply could get hold of the ball, everything they did went wrong, in complete contrast to the Knights who were now having the rub of the green and the penalty count. They scored two further tries by Nick Griffiths to gain a bonus point that puts the group back into the melting pot.
With Rotherham at home in two weeks time the Blue & Blacks will be looking to cook up a storm.