Sheffield 3rd XV came up against probably one of the strongest teams they will face this season when they took on Doncaster Amateurs at Castle Park on Saturday. The Doncaster team was predominantly made up from their successful colts side from last season and hence had played together for a long time, whilst the Sheffield team was very much a scratch side with 11 players making their senior debut for the club.
The match started at a fast pace with both teams showing a willingness to move the ball wide whenever possible, however the Doncaster pack definitely had the edge and started to dominate possession through their set piece work at line-out and scrum. Sheffield, however, were the first side to score with Danny Bearman, playing at fly-half, scuffing a penalty kick over the cross bar on 20 minutes, after Doncaster infringed at a ruck.
Doncaster then responded very strongly running in 4 unanswered tries before half-time. Unfortunately Phil Tomlinson, playing his first senior match for Sheffield at inside centre, limped off after 25 minutes with a knee injury, resulting in a reshuffle of the backline with Tom Brown, scrum-half, moving to centre, and Luke Billingham coming on at scrum-half. The Sheffield backline now had several players playing in unfamiliar positions.
Half-time score was Doncaster 22 Sheffield 3rd XV 3.
Sheffield rallied well after the half-time break and played their best 20 minutes rugby of the match, with Luke Billingham organising an effective pick and go through the forwards, which eventually lead to a try by Tom Brown on 50 minutes, converted by Danny Bearman. Unfortunately the momentum was lost almost immediately from the restart with the Doncaster outside centre intercepting a loose pass and running in unopposed under the posts. Doncaster then scored a 6th try as the Sheffield defence began to fade.
Danny Bearman made a customary break and turn of pace to score an excellent solo effort to restore some pride for Sheffield, Jim Arundale, playing at full-back, added the extras. However Doncaster had the last word with 2 further tries making the final score Doncaster 48 Sheffield 3rd XV 17.
Whilst a heavy defeat for Sheffield there was plenty of positives to work on, with the scrum improving dramatically in the second half and a new back row combination of Pat Scotton (openside), Dave Allanson (blindside) and Rob Price (No.8 / captain) combining effectively.