DONCASTER Knights’ Championship status is hanging by a thread after they slid to a disappointing 25-19 derby defeat at a mud-coated Castle Park.
Clive Griffiths’ strugglers dug deep on a bog of a pitch and led 12-6 as a scrappy affair approached the hour mark.
But a crazy ten-minute period, in which Rotherham Titans turned the game on its head with three tries, condemned Doncaster to their 14th league defeat of a thoroughly miserable campaign.
Dougie Flockhart gave Doncaster a foothold by converting two penalties. But despite Garry Law halving the deficit with a penalty on the half hour, Knights’ battled admirably against both the difficult conditions and powerful Rotherham pack.
Despite Flockhart and Law exchanging penalties to see the score tick over to 12-6 in favour of the hosts, the visitors slowly started to take control of proceedings after the break.
First a quick breakaway from inside their own half saw Michael Doneghan sprint clear for a superb score.
Law failed to convert but within minutes the ball was offloaded to Eamonn Sheridan who dove over to put rampant Rotherham ahead for the first time.
And worse was very quickly to follow for Doncaster as a Titans side with their tails up were awarded a penalty try after Knights were adjudged to have collapsed a rolling maul that was headed for the try line.
A shell-shocked Doncaster did manage to pick themselves up and end the game strongly, skipper Matt Challinor powering over for a try in the final minute.
Flockhart then held his nerve to land the conversion which meant Knights collected what could be a vital losing bonus point. But the mood at Castle Park was almost one of resignation as Doncaster run out of time to prevent a return to the National League.
Knights travel to Bedford in a fortnight’s time before a potential relegation decider at Jersey is sandwiched between two remaining home games against Nottingham and Plymouth.
n Knights: Keating, Flockhart, Mama, Luke, Sharp, Braid, Bedford (Hallam 75), Davies (Brown 52), Buckley, Cronin (McGovern 69), Challinor, Parsons (Smith 58), Kettle, Hafu (Sowery 69), Planchant (Boyde 71).
n Rotherham: Law, Doneghan, Sheridan, Nonu, Wilson, McKinney, Mulchrone (Williams 69) Gadd, Stagg, Denman, Thomas, Sanderson, Makafi, Kirwin, Rieder (Pearce 60).
n Attendance: 1,517