IT was a subdued Doncaster side that made the long journey back from Scotland after a very disappointing performance in their final British and Irish Cup Pool D game against a spirited Ayr side who deservedly beat the Knights for a place in the quarter finals.
Knights put Ayr under early pressure but could not turn their possession into points.
However, the first time Ayr got into Knights’ half, they won a lineout about 20 metres out and centre Mark Stewart broke through a gap to race over for a try that fly-half Ross Curle converted.
Lewis-Pratt kicked a penalty almost from the restart, but Ayr took advantage of poor defence on the left flank to make ground before the ball was moved inside to lock Damien Kelly who raced over almost unopposed.
With 24 minutes gone Knights lost control of the ball inside their own 22 and it bounced to Curle who scored his side’s third try.
Knights could not find a way through the Ayr defence and they reached half-time 17-3 in arrears.
Disaster struck Knights early in the second half when they lost Denton with a shoulder injury and then, shortly afterwards, having replaced two backs to look at other players, they lost winger Paul Devlin with a head injury and then substitute PJ Gidlow with a broken arm. Knights were orced to play the remainder of the game with replacement flanker, Neil Cochrane, on one wing and starting flanker Latu Makaafi on the other, with a consequential reshuffling of the pack which saw Thiede moving to lock.
Between these mishaps, Curle extended Ayr’s lead with a penalty.
Once the reorganised team had settled down, Knights got back into the game with tries from close in by No 8 Ed Jackson and Lawrie - both of which were converted by Lewis-Pratt.
Curle kicked another penalty between the two scores.
As injury time approached and only six points behind, the beleaguered Knights threw everything into the attack but Ayr’s defence managed to just keep them out as the final whistle went.
Knights: Flockhart, Denton (McColl 44), Briers, Gates (Gidlow 50 Cusack 55), Devlin (Cochrane 52), Lewis-Pratt, Hampson (Jones 50), Corsar (Brown 55), Doughty (Lawrie 46), Thiede, Kenworthy, Challinor, Makaafi, Jackson, Walker