Doncaster Knights slumped to their biggest defeat in their most important game of their 2016-17 Championship campaign.
Hoping to reach the play-off finals for the second successive season, Knights face a near-impossible task in the second-leg at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday after going down 35-3 against favourites London Irish on Sunday in front of a 2,173 crowd at Castle Park.
Knights boss Clive Griffiths, who had hoped his charges would still be in contention going into the second leg at the Madejski Stadium, where the Exiles are unbeaten at league level this season, took the defeat on the chin.
“I’ve no complaint about the result; they were too good for us,” said the straight talking Welshman.
“We were like rabbits in the headlamps at times and we didn’t handle the pressure of their defence despite working on itfor the last two weeks.
“We made a couple of inroads but we couldn’t capitalise. It was a tough day at the office.
“There were one or two exceptions, but overall we kicked badly (out of hand).
“We were still in it at half-time at 10-3 down and it could have been even closer had Dougie (Flockhart) managed to get the ball down in the field of play.
“But they hit us with an early second half try and got away from us.”
Griffiths admitted that Knights would need something akin to a miracle to overturn the 32-point deficit, but pledged: “We’ll go down there and give it a go.”