Doncaster Knights’ late show proved in vain as they suffered a 31-29 Championship Cup defeat in their penultimate Pool One clash against Coventry at the Butts Park Arena.
Knights fancied their chance of becoming only the second side to beat Coventry at home in either league or cup this season when Dougie Flockhart kicked them into a 15-14 lead early in the final quarter.
But the winger’s subsequent sin-binning proved costly and an unanswered three-try scoring burst – initiated by former Knight Junior Bulumakau – saw the Midlands side race into a match-winning 31-15 lead.
Knights managed to score two late tries from interceptions upon Flockhart’s return to ensure that they didn’t go away empty-handed and they ended up with both a losing bonus point and a try bonus point.
Centre Will Owen was up in support after Flockhart had been tackled five metres out and full-back Cameron Cowell left the cover for dead from inside his own half after being put away by Steve McColl.
Third-placed Knights suffered a late blow when in-form Tongan international fly-half Kurt Morath picked up an injury in the warm-up. Ollie Stedman also went off just after the half-hour mark.
Seeking to complete a cup double over last season’s National One champions, Knights took an early lead after prop Colin Quigley touched down for a third-minute try converted by Flockhart.
Centre Rob Knox opened Coventry’s account with a long-range penalty on eight minutes. He again hit the target from a similar distance five minutes later and with fly-half Will Maisey also converting another penalty from a much closer range, Knights found themselves trailing 9-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Knights regained the lead on 28 minutes when Stedman scored for the second time in as many games following his return to the club, when driving over in the corner following another lineout.
Sam Jones took over from the injured Stedman several minutes before Coventry hooker Phil Nilsen was sin-binned.
No sooner had Coventry returned to their full compliment early in the second half than Knights were reduced to 14 men as a result of a foul tackle by prop Robin Hislop.
The home side twice looked set to capitalise on their extra man only to be denied by last-ditch tackles from full-back Cameron Cowell. Knights also held firm when Coventry moved the ball wide from a rolling maul.
Coventry’s pressure finally paid off however, when replacement Darren Dawidiuk crossed for their first try to leave Knights trailing 14-12 going into the final quarter.
Knights: Cowell, Flockhart, Creed, Owen, McColl, Foley, Seniloli; Hislop, Hunter, Quigley, Tyrell, Eames, Stedman, Hills, Pitman. Rep: Malcolm, Williams, Sproston, Challinor, Jones, Dawson, James.