Doncaster Knights 26 Jersey 30
Doncaster Knights went close to producing an Houdini-style escape act in their final Championship game of the season against Jersey Reds at Castle Park.
Knights scored three unanswered tries in the final quarter after they had trailed 27-7 to set up a grandstand finish to a game in which five players (four from Jersey) were sin-binned in the second half.
But in the final analysis they had to settle for a two-point losing draw as Jersey held out to claim a 30-26 win which secured them their seventh on the road this season.
Knights had hoped to give their departing players a winning send-off but they produced an error-ridden first half performance which did little to entertain the third highest crowd of the season.
Jersey took an early lead when wing Auguy Slowik scored the first of his three tries, which fly-half Brendan Cope converted from touch, after getting on the end of a grubber kick by full-back Scott Van Breda.
One of several controversial decisions to go against Knights came on ten minutes when fly-half Simon Humberstone sent wing Curtis Wilson over after catching a Jersey kick just outside their 22 only for the try to be disallowed for crossing – full-back Cameron Cowell thought to be the other player involved.
Jersey dominated both possession and territory for much of the first quarter but Knights defended well and drew level on 20 minutes - second-rower Matt Challinor touching down following numerous phases in the Jersey 22 for a try converted by Humberstone.
Jersey hit back to lead 15-7 with a Cope penalty and an unconverted try by Kieran Hardy.
The scrum-half raced through a huge gap in midfield after latching on to a dropped pass and then steered a path past full-back Cowell to score a well-taken opportunist try.
Knights, who lost three first half lineouts, fell further behind when Slowik kicked ahead down the left flank and won the race to the ball. Cope again added the extras to open up 15-point lead.
Knights made couple of forward changes during the break but fell further behind on 52 minutes when Slowik squeezed in at the corner despite the efforts of Cowell.
It looked like being a damage-limitation exercise for Knights at that stage.
But making use of their extra man, Knights opened up the Jersey defence on their right flank from a scrum with Cowell popping up outside Wilson and racing in from over 30m out.
When Knights were awarded a penalty try, which cut the gap to just eight points and Jersey were further reduced numerically, the momentum looked to have swung in their favour.
Especially when centre Lloyd Hayes ran strongly before sending the supporting Tom James over for a converted try.
Just when it looked as though Knights would snatch victory at the death play was brought back on the intervention of a touch judge who had spotted an infringement in the ruck which resulted in a penalty which Cope converted.
Knights: Cowell, A Bulumakau, Klim, Hayes, Wilson, Humberstone, Heaney; List, Hunter, Sproston, Challinor, Hicks, Hill, Shaw, Tyrell. Rep: Langdon, Bergmanas, Quigley, Civetta, Batt, James, Foley.