Doncaster Knights booked their place in the quarter-finals of the B&I Cup with a magnificent 37-28 bonus point win over previously unbeaten Pool 2 leaders Leinster A at Donnybrook Stadium.
Knights’ hopes looked to be hanging by a thread at half time when they trailed the strongly-fancied Irish side 21-8.
But they scored 29 points without reply in the second half, during which Leinster had two players sin-binned, to lead 37-21 at one stage.
Knights made the early running after the break and both Namibian centre Lesley Klim and stand-in skipper Matt Challinor both went desperately close from a 49th minute lineout.
The home side had second-rower Mick Kearney yellow carded and he was joined in the sin-bin by full-back Barry Daly two minutes later as Knights were awarded a penalty try for what was deemed a deliberate knock-on.
Knights capitalised on their two-man advantage when full-back Paul Jarvis ran on to a Klim offload deep in his own half before weaving past several defenders to score a brilliant 80m try.
Knights came under pressure early in the final quarter before getting their noses in front on 69 minutes with a bonus point try.
Junior Bulumakau touched down following good work by replacement forwards Curtis Langdon and Adam Batt in the build-up. Simon Humberstone added the extras and also converted a penalty to make it 30-21 before being replaced by Declan Cusack.
Knights made the game safe with a close-range converted try by Challinor on 78 minutes.
Knights had earlier got the sort of start they had been hoping for when No 8 Alex Shaw created the chance for big prop Joe Sproston to claim his second try in as many games from an eighth-minute lineout.
No sooner had the cheers of the Doncaster supporters died down than the home side edged into a 7-5 lead with a converted try by Gavin Mullen after the pack had got on a roll from a lineout just outside the Knights 22.
Knights regained the lead on 12 minutes with a penalty by Humberstone.
The lead changed hands again when outnumbered Doncaster wing Tyson Lewis’s attempted interception wasn’t successful and Leinster’s skipper Ed Bryne showed clever footwork for a prop to side-step Jarvis. Ciaran Frawley again added the extras to make it 14-8.
The home side extended their lead with a third converted try at the start of the second quarter – the referee ignoring claims by Doncaster scrum-half Michael Heaney that he was obstructed in the move which saw his opposite number Nick McCarthy touch down from the back of a scrum.
Knights: Jarvis, Bulumakau, Klim, Clark, Lewis, Humberstone, Heaney; List, Hunter, Sproston, Challinor, Hicks, Tyrell, Owen, Shaw. Replacements: Langdon, Bergmanas, Williams, Batt, Hill, James, Cusack.