The narrow 20-18 win, in which both sides scored two tries, shouldn’t have been as close, but Doncaster failed to grab numerous opportunities in both halves.
However, tries by scrum-half Ollie Fox and then from winger George Simpson clearly showed the capabilities of the squad coach Steve Boden has assembled.
And with several players back from injury and now available for Saturday’s clash at Cambridge, the Knights are in decent shape.
Fly-half and co-captain Sam Olver was particularly pleased with the team’s spirit and character throughout a tough match
“We can take a lot of confidence from this win because it was a tight game and to win close games can be hard,” said Olver. “We can get better in certain aspects, especially at the attacking break-down where Hartpury turned over our ball quite a lot.
“I thought at times we attacked really well. However, at other times, we didn’t manage to hold on to the ball. But to get four points in a tight game, I’m really happy with that.”
Olver’s accurate goal-kicking –10 points from two conversions, a penalty and a drop goal – played a crucial role in Doncaster’s win which at the climax was threatened as Hartpury winger Alex Morgan burst through the Knights’ defence.
Morgan seemed likely to score and, therefore, steal a win, but top-class defending by full-back Harry Davey, who tackled Morgan alllowing Simpson to seize the ball, stopped the winger’s attempt.
It enabled Doncaster to cling to their two points’ advantage which should have been significantly larger late in the second half when another scoring opportunity was missed because they lost their own line-out ball only metres from Hartpury’s line.
But, as Boden said later: “We scrummed well, drove well and I was pleased with our discipline and kicking game.”