THE Knights suffered a huge blow to their play-off ambitions with defeat at Nottingham.
Brett Davey’s men were much improved from their mauling against Bristol last weekend, displaying greater resilience but never really looked like scoring.
Davey blamed a lack of presence in the set piece for Doncaster’s impotent attacking threat, particularly in the first half.
A 12-12 draw between Pool A rivals Bristol and London Welsh ensured the Knights were not cut too far adrift but getting something from Meadow Lane looked to be key for progression.
James Arlidge opened the scoring on nine minutes with a penalty and doubled the lead on the half hour with a second.
The Knights managed just two advances into the opposition territory in the first half while Dougie Flockhart’s long range penalty attempt was their solitary chance to get on the scoresheet.
Arlidge added a third penalty in the final passage of play in the half which also saw Chris Hallam yellow carded for not releasing the ball.
It was a horror start to the second half for the Knights as Nottingham grabbed their first try.
Latu Makaafi fumbled the ball from the kick off and Brent Wilson punted forward, with Tom Streather beating Matt Challinor in a race and dotting down just before dead, Arlidge converting.
The Knights responded well and were camped on the Nottingham 22 for a long period.
The pressure told on Nottingham with Craig Hammond sin-binned and Flockhart slotting over a penalty.
Nottingham were back on the front foot when the numbers were levelled up and a lethal four minute period took them out of sight.
After camping on the five metre line for several minutes, Nottingham went over with replacement Michael Holford getting the credit, Alridge converting.
And with 18 minutes to go, the hosts wrapped the game up.
Ayoola Erinlie took possession of the ball just inside his own half and charged down the wing.
After a couple of dummied passes he surged clear and touched down under the posts, giving Arlidge a simple conversion.
Nottingham: Jackson (De Carpentier, 73), Lewington, Streather, Socino, Erinlie, Arlidge, Romans (Shaw, 73), Harris (Holford, 64), Duffey (Stevens, 73), Bower (Barnham, 73), Hammond (Prescott, 73), Rouse, Kalamafoni, Wilson, Levi.
Replacements not used: Hallet.
Doncaster: Berridge, Flockhart, Goss, Burdon, Keating (Toft, 74), McDonogh, Hallam (Heaney, 74), Corsar (Burke-Flynn, 46), Boden (Yeandle, 58), Alex Brown, Challinor, Parsons, Makaafi (Planchant, 58), Farivarz (Boyde, 67), Noone (Kettle, 58).
Referee: Steve Lee.