Thirteen-man Doncaster Knights held on to beat second-placed Yorkshire Carnegie 31-26 in a dramatic top-four Championship clash at Castle Park.
Knights looked to have the game won when leading 31-14 but Carnegie hit back with a brace of tries and the South Yorkshire side had to dig deep to preserve their unbeaten home league record against the Headingley club dating back ten years.
Carnegie opened the scoring with a converted try by prop Lewis Boyce from a catch-and-drive ploy on eight minutes.
Knights hit back strongly and quick handling in the Carnegie 22 saw wing Tyson Lewis touch down in the corner on 12 minutes only to have the try disallowed for a forward pass.
Carnegie had play-maker Joe Ford sin-binned and Knights wasted no time in making their numerical advantage count – impressive fly-half Simon Humberstone dummying his way over from close range for a try converted by wing Dougie Flockhart.
Knights were looking the more likely side as the second quarter progressed and their pressure was rewarded when Flockhart edged them into a 10-7 lead with a 40 metre penalty on 38 minutes.
Clive Griffiths admitted during the build-up that he had picked up a few attacking ideas from watching rugby league’s Super League leaders Castleford Tigers.
Some of Knights’ play in the closing stages of the half would have done ‘Classy Cas’ justice with several players, including centre Andy Bulumakau, going close to a second try prior to Flockhart extending their lead to 13-7 with a superb penalty from the touchline in the last minute of stoppage time.
Carnegie regained the lead with a well-taken try by full-back Chris Elder, converted from touch by Ford, within four minutes of the restart.
Their lead didn’t last long, however, with Flockhart’s third penalty restoring Knights’ lead on 45 minutes.
Bulumakau finished off a bout of smart handling when showing good balance and pace to wrong-foot Carnegie captain Ryan Burrows and race over. Flockhart’s close-range conversion came back off the post leaving the score 21-14.
The centre struck again on 66 minutes, racing in from 20 metres after pulling off an interception. Flockhart added the extras and was also on target with a subsequent penalty t0 make it 31-14.
A 73rd minute converted try by Josh Bainbridge boosted Carnegie hopes as did the sin-binning of Matt Challoner a minute later.
Elder secured Carnegie a bonus point, breaking several tackles to claim their fourth try on 76 minutes to leave just five points seperating the sides.
Knights were reduced to 13 me when Humberstone was sin-binned.
Ford looked to have won the game for Carnegie when dummying his way over only for the try to be disallowed for crossing.
Doncaster Knights: Jarvis, Flockhart, Bulumakau, Hayes, Lewis, Humberstone, Heaney; List, Hunter, Quigley, Challinor, Young, Ram, Hills,Carpenter. Rep: Bergmanas, Nelson, Sproston, Nolan, Shaw, Edgerley, Cusack.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Elder, Holmes,Lucock, Casson,Arscott
Ford, Davies; Boyce, Mayhew, Cusack, Myerscough, West, Stedman, Mayhew, Burrows. Rep: Poole,C Beesley, Faletua,
Smith, Bainbridge, Green, Forsyth.