Yorkshire Carnegie 21 Doncaster Knights 12: Defeat hits hopes of a top half finish for Griffiths’ men
Doncaster Knights came away empty-handed from their Championship derby against Yorkshire Carnegie.
Carnegie, who also won both Championship Cup games between the two sides, completed a league double over their spirited South Yorkshire rivals when posting a 21-12 win.
Defeat left ninth-placed Knights outside hopes of a top-half finish hanging by a thread and they will go into their penultimate game of the season at home to Coventry on Saturday eight points adrift of sixth-placed Carnegie and seven behind Nottingham.
But at least they will be free of any lingering worries about being sucked into a relegation dogfight after bottom side Richmond tasted defeat on Saturday.
Keen to avenge a 30-22 defeat at Castle Park in late December in a game where they led 22-15 with ten minutes to go, Knights got off to a flying start.
No 8 Josh Tyrell, who later came off injured, gave Knights an early lead when picking the ball up from the back of the scrum and managing to reach out of a tackle to touch down for a try converted by fly-half Kurt Morath.
Knights continued to enjoy the better of the exchanges despite being unable to capitalise further on in-form Carnegie’s sluggish start.
The home side started to come more into the game around the midway point of the half and drew level on 24 minutes when being awarded a penalty try after Knights infringed during a catch-and-drive routine - the threat of which director of rugby Clive Griffiths had highlighted in the build-up.
Knights suffered another setback when former Carnegie favourite Ryan Burrows, who was making his starting debut for Knights, was sin-binned.
Carnegie extended their lead during his absence with the first of two tries by Dann Temm.
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Knights struggled to make much of an impact on Carnegie’s defence until full-back Cameron Cowell scored a superb individual try just before the break.
There looked to be nothing on when the former Newcastle man got the ball ten metres out but after looking around for some space he shot over with a turn of blistering pace.
Morath missed the resulting conversion but Knights went in just two points adrift.
Carnegie started the second half better than the first and opened up a 21-12 lead with a converted try by Temm from a quickly-taken tap penalty.
Knights continued to find the Carnegie defence tough to crack in their search for some sort of reward in the final quarter.
They did manage to create the odd chance and had second-rower Nick Civetta taken a different option a score could have been forthcoming.
But, after breaking from his own half, the USA international chose not to pass to the supporting Morgan Eames but carry on towards the line before trying to find replacement second-rower Tom Hicks just outside the Carnegie 22 where the move broke down.
Knights: Cowell, Wilson, Roberts, Clark, Lewis, Morath, James; Hislop, Hunter, Beech, Civetta, Eames, Burrows, Hills, Tyrell. Rep: Mayhew, List, Sproston, Hicks, Calladine, Polataivao, Foley.