York City Knights 31 Doncaster RLFC 16: Dons beaten but push promotion rivals hard
Doncaster RLFC remain outside the Betfred League One promotion places following their 31-16 defeat against York City Knights at Bootham Crescent.
But if they can play as well as they did against second-placed Knights in their remaining games they will be entitled to fancy their chances of not only making the top five but also making an impact.
New signing scrum-half Matty Beharrell provided the organisation and direction often lacking following the sale of Liam Harris to Hull FC.
Both sides were reduced to 12 men following a fourth-minute flare-up which saw Dons prop Russ Spiers and York front-rower Josh Johnson red carded.
The Dons drew first blood on seven minutes when Beharrell picked out Richard Owen with a long pass inside the York 20 and the winger raced in at the corner for an unconverted try.
York levelled the scores on 11 minutes, winger Judah Mazive touching down in the corner following some snappy handling along the line.
Stand-off Connor Robinson’s touchline conversion edged the home side into a 6-4 lead.
Full-back Jack Sanderson, who had fielded several high kicks in the first quarter, levelled the scores with an easy penalty on 22 minutes.
With Doncaster continuing to defend well it came as no surprise when York also decided to go for the two points when the visitors were penalised inside their own 20 just before the half-hour mark.
Knights stretched their lead to 12-6 on 32 minutes with a scrappy unconverted try in the corner by full-back Ash Robson.
The Dons went close to a second try from a high kick to the corner by stand-off Jordan Howden but wing Sam Doherty was unable to touch down.
York, who had enjoyed the better of the second quarter, looked to be in again but the referee ruled the final pass forward.
Howden again troubled York defence with a kick to the corner deep into stoppage time.
The Dons were the first to threaten after the break and had Owen being able to hold a teasing kick by Beharrell to the corner he would have fancied his chances of a second try.
York centre Joe Batchelor and prop Graeme Horne prior were both thwarted by some terrific goal-line defence prior to Robinson dropping a goal to open up a seven-point lead.
The Dons survived further pressure before Owen grabbed a second try in the corner following some sparkling handling from right to left on 58 minutes. Once again Sanderson failed to add the extras leaving the score at 13-10.
Their hopes of becoming only the second League One side to beat York at home this season suffered a setback six minutes later when Matty Marsh ghosted his way over a converted try.
But they hit back again a couple of minutes later when Howden raced on to another clever Beharrell kick to score near enough for Sanderson to make make it 19-16.
The game remained in the balance until York bagged a couple of late converted tries through Horne and Ben Cockhayne.
Dons: Sanderson, Doherty, Jones-Bishop, Tali, Owen, Howden, Beharrel; Boyle, Kesik, Spiers, England, Lane, Turgut. Subs: Scott, Osbourne, Mariano, Litten.