A stoppage-time converted try condemned Doncaster Knights to a 32-30 Championship defeat against fourth-placed Yorkshire Carnegie at Castle Park.
Just when it looked as though Knights – who had second-rower Nick Civetta sent-off in first-half stoppage time following a clash of heads with scrum-half Will Homer – had defied the odds to claim a 30-25 victory, Carnegie struck at the death.
They got on a roll from a lineout and Knights could do little to prevent hooker Joe Buckle from touching down to level the scores at 30-all.
Fly-half Alex Davies, who had kicked well all game, held his nerve to kick the winning conversion to complete a double for the Leeds side.
Buoyed by their impressive derby win at Clifton Lane, Knights made a confident start with flanker Jack Ram, who had his best game of the season, well to the fore.
It was no more than they deserved when fly-half Simon Humberstone kicked Knights into an early lead.
Knights continued to play an attractive brand of attacking rugby but couldn’t turn further pressure into points.
Such was Knights territorial dominance that it took Carnegie more than 15 minutes to breach their 22 – wing George Watkins going close in the corner during their first attacking sortie of note.
It was against the run of play when they took the lead.
After his forwards had drawn a blank when trying to force their way over from close range, Davies produced a neat grubber kick to the corner which led to full-back Chris Elder touching down near enough for the half-back to convert to make it 7-3.
Centre Tom Casson went close to a second try from another clever grubber kick by Davies over the line during Carnegie’s best spell of the half.
Knights quickly regained the initiative and were awarded a penalty try when Elder, who was subsequently sin-binned, was ruled to have deliberately knocked down prop Colin Quigley’s high pass meant for wing Curtis Wilson.
Davies levelled the scores at 10-10 with a penalty but Knights again got their noses in front.
Full-back Charlie Foley joined the line out wide just outside the Carnegie 22 and fed Wilson, who cut inside his marker and then surged past several other defenders to score for the fourth successive game.
Davies pegged three points back with a second penalty and would have given his side a 16-15 interval lead had he not pulled an injury-time effort wide.
Despite been a man down, Knights took the game to Carnegie upon the restart with Ram helping to create the position from which Wilson was held just short.
Knights remained on the attack and scrum-half Michael Heaney picked out centre Will Owen with a long pass.
Humberstone again added the extras and kicked another penalty to open up a 25-13 lead.
Knights let their concentration slip and were punished when centre Andy Forsyth raced in out wide.
Carnegie, who had won their previous five league and cup games, grabbred a third try by Elder following some good handling down the right and with Davies again hitting the target the scores were level for a second time at 25-25.
Knights picked up a try-bonus point for the second league game in succession when skipper Michael Hills touched down for their fourth try from close range to make it 30-25.
Knights found themselves under almost constant pressure in the last ten minutes or so but some heroic defence managed to keep their line intact until Buckle sealed their fate.
Knights: Charlie Foley, Curtis Wilson, Mat Clark, Will Owen, Tyson Lewis (Morgan Eames 41), Simon Humberstone (Declan Cusack 78), Michael Heaney (Tom James 72), Richard List (Jack Bergmanas 63), David Nelson (Curtis Langdon 72) Colin Quigley (Joe Sprotson 63), Matt Challinor, Nick Civetta, Jack Ram, Michael Hills, Alex Shaw (Jason Hill 67),
Replacements: Curtis Langdon, Jack Bergmanas, Joe Sproston, Morgan Eames, Jason Hill, Tom James, Declan Cusack.
Tries: Pen try 20, Wilson 27, Owen 42, Hills 65
Cons: Humberstone 27, 42.
Pens:Humberstone 10, 56
Yorkshire Carnegie: Chris Elder, George Watkins, Andy Forsyth, Tom Casson (Fred Burdon 55), Stevie McColl, Alex Davies,Will Homer (Max Green 66), Marc Thomas, Joe Buckle, Charlie Beech, Jack Whetton, Mike Myerscough (Ollie Stedman 62), Ben West, Richard Mayhew (Josh Bainbridge 72), Richard Beck.
Replacements: Harry Newborn, Charlie Capps, James Thraves, Ollie Stedman, Josh Bainbridge, Max Green, Fred Burdon.
Tries: Elder 17, 62, Forysth 57, Buckle 80.
Cons: Davies 17,62, 80
Pens: Davies 24,34
Referee: Greg MacDonald
Match report courtesy of Steve Hossack.