Cornish Pirates 22 Doncaster Knights 19
A last-minute converted try robbed Doncaster Knights of victory in their emotional Championship clash against Cornish Pirates at the Mennaye Field.
Just when it looked as though Knights would hang on for a hard-fought win and avenge their earlier defeat at Castle Park, Pirates claimed a 22-19 victory to sink their hopes.
Pirates deserved credit for coming back from a19-5 deficit, but it was hard not to feel sorry for a Doncaster side which had led throughout in a game played in testing conditions.
It was the first game that Knights had played since prop Ian Williams collapsed and died during a training session at Castle Park last month and they had badly wanted to win in his memory as well as climbing into third spot.
The two teams observed a minute’s silence before the kick-off and the South Yorkshire club sported the initials IW under the club badge on their shirts.
Knights drew first blood when good work by scrum-half Tom James created the position from which hooker Ben Hunter touched down from a driving maul on six minutes.
Knights then suffered a couple of injury setbacks. Utility-back Charlie Foley taking over from in-form full-back Paul Jarvis prior to Hunter being replaced by Dave Nelson minutes later.
Knights scored a second try from a catch-and-drive routine with Nelson touching down near enough for Simon Humberstone to tag on the extras to make it 12-0.
Alex O’Meara threw Pirates a lifeline within five minutes of the restart but a superb break by Nelson helped get Andy Bulumakau away to create the position on the edge of the home 22.
Bulumakau broke from a subsequent ruck and then combined with fellow centre Mat Clark to get No 8 Josh Tyrell over for a 51st minute converted try.
Pirates bombed a good chance to get back into the game but they made amends when driving over for a converted try to close the gap to just seven points at the start of the final quarter.
With the momentum now with Pirates, Knights had to dig deep in defence but conceded a 75th minute penalty for holding on which saw their lead pegged back to just four points.
They came under further pressure in the closing minutes before conceding a crucial penalty which ultimately cost them the game from the resulting lineout.
Their first defeat in four league games saw Knights drop a place to fifth.
Knights: Jarvis, Wilson, Klim, Clark, A Bulumakau, Humberstone, James; List, Hunter, Sproston, Challinor, Hicks, Ram, Hills, Tyrell. Rep: Nelson, Bergmanans, Pope, Batt, Shaw, Heaney,Foley.