Derby despair: Rotherham Titans 23 Doncaster Knights 10

Michael Noone tries to break through tackles during the Knights' defeat at Rotherham Titans.

Michael Noone tries to break through tackles during the Knights' defeat at Rotherham Titans.

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ROTHERHAM ruthlessly took advantage of the Knights being reduced to 14 men to secure victory in a full-blooded South Yorkshire derby at Clifton Lane.

The Titans scored two tries while fly half Tom Luke sat in the sin bin, opening up a wide margin Doncaster were not able to close.

It was clear both sides were desperate for the victory but the tight skills of the hosts proved too much for the Knights who struggled to turn possession into points.

Doncaster spent the opening eight minutes under pressure but excellent defending kept the attack at bay until the lines were cleared.

But Rotherham were handed an advantage when Luke was yellow carded for hands in the ruck and his opposite number Garry Law made no mistake with the penalty.

Luke’s absence left the Knights exposed and when an attempted clearance from David McIlwaine was sliced straight into Rotherham lines, rising star Robin Copeland burst through a static defence to score, Law converting

The gaping hole in the back line was exploited once more minutes later when Copeland latched onto a misplaced pass on the win and ran 60 metres to touch down in the corner, Law adding the extras.

Doncaster turned up the pressure on Rotherham as the first half progressed but they couldn’t break through and went in 17-0 down at half time.

The Knights finally got on the scoreboard as play resume for the second half with Luke slotting over a penalty.

But Rotherham hit back with Law slotting over a 30 yard drop goal before landing a penalty from 50 yards on 53 minutes.

Director of rugby Brett Davey shuffled the Knights pack and handed a Championship debut to Fred Burdon at wing in place of the injured McIlwaine.

The Doncaster defence improved to frustrate Rotherham who were keen to finish off their neighbours.

Luke continued his atonement by adding a consolation try and conversion after Michael Keating set him free.

Knights: 15 David McIlwaine (Fred Burdon 58), 14 Dougie FLockhart, 13 Oli Goss, 12 PJ Gidlow, 11 Michael Keating, 10 Tom Luke, 9 Chris Hallam, 1 Stuart Corsar (Tom Davies 58), 2 Steve Boden (Jack Yeandle 70), 3 Alex Brown, 4 Matt Challinor, 5 Glen Kenworthy (Dominic Parsons 58), 6 Latu Makaafi, 7 Zack Farivarz (Michael Noone 25), 8 Andy Boyde (Chris Planchant).

Titans: 15 Tom Foden, 14 Ed Tellwright, 13 Dave McCall (Hamilton 75), 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Shane Monahan, 10 Garry Law, 9 Jimmy Williams, 1 Shane Cahill (Kilbane 64), 2 Ted Stagg (Baines 50), 3 Ben Hooper (O’Donnell 64), 4 Sam Dickinson (Capt.) (Maddison 67), 5 Adrian Griffiths, 6 Robin Copeland, 7 Sean Dougall, 8 Semisi Taulava

Attendance: 2467