Doncaster Knights 23 Nottingham 25: Knights comeback falls agonisingly short
Doncaster Knights slumped to a second successive Championship defeat at home to Nottingham in a dramatic finish at Castle Park.
On-loan fly-half Sam Olver, who hadn’t missed a kick at goal all afternoon, had the chance to secure Knights a fourth win in five games since the turn of the year but he pulled his angled injury-time penalty just wide of the far post.
It meant that the sixth-placed visitors hung on to their 25-23 lead and claimed their first win of 2019.
The Green and Whites had looked to be heading for a more emphatic victory when leading 17-6 at the interval.
But Knights produced a spirited response after the break and in the final analysis, despite the fact their performance fell short of others this year, will be disappointed to have banked only a losing bonus point.
The home side opened the scoring with an easy penalty by Olver - after stand-in skipper Tom Calladine had gone close – cancelled out by his opposite number Shane O’Leary.
Seeking to repeat a Championship Cup win at Castle Park in December, Notts took the lead when wing Alex Goble just managed to get a touch to a neat grubber-kick before the ball ran dead. O’Leary added the extras.
Powerful No 8 Ollie Stedman almost made a try out of nothing following a 40 metre break and would have done so had he found wing Tyson Lewis with a long pass 25 metres out.
Nottingham opened up a 17-3 lead when centre Luke Peters broke strongly down the middle of the pitch from just inside the Doncaster half before handing on to Jordan Coghlan who got the better of Steve McColl prior to racing in from 20 metres out for another converted try.
Olver cut Nottingham’s lead to 17-6 with an angled 38m penalty on the stroke of half-time.
Knights laid siege to the Nottingham line in the opening ten minutes of the half and it was no more than they deserved when Lewis rounded off some snappy handling to touch down in the corner for his first try of the season.
Olver’s touchline conversion made it 17-13.
Nottingham hit back with close-range effort by David Williams. Credit the wing for taking his chance but no doubt questions will be asked of the defence at Monday’s review session.
Fortunately for Knights the conversion was missed and the score remained 22-13.
Wing Paul Jarvis capped an impressive return from injury when he cut inside past several defenders after the ball had been moved down the line and somehow managed to touch down.
Olver added the extras and also kicked a penalty to edge his side into a 23-22 lead following an incident which led to Notts hooker Luke Cole being sin-binned.
O’Leary kicked what turned out to be the winning penalty late on.
Knights: McColl, Jarvis, Creed, Hayes, Lewis, Olver, James; Hislop, Mayhew, Quigley, Challinor, Hicks, Tyrell, Calladine. Stedman. Replacements: Malcolm, List, Sproston, Ryan, Jones, Polataivao, Foley