A LAST-MINUTE try from captain Michael Hills saw 14-man Doncaster Knights snatch a dramatic win over Yorkshire Carnegie in a thrilling derby today.
Doncaster Knights 34 Yorkshire Carnegie 28
Winger Andrew Bulumakau scored two quality first-half tries to set Doncaster on their way but their opponents showed real character to battle back from 24-11 and actually lead 28-27 heading into the last throes.
Their winger David Doherty grabbed two tries of his own as Carnegie looked set to become the first side to defeat Knights in the league since they did so themselves at Headingley back in October.
Given Doncaster replacement Tyler Hotson had been sin-binned for collapsing a maul directly before Doherty’s second try in the 71st minute, they really should have gone on to earn a victory.
But their South Yorkshire rivals - strengthening their hold on second spot - are renowned for their never-say-die attitude and that was shown once more when they dug deep to secure a success that sees them move five points clear of Carnegie in third.
Declan Cusack miscued a 78th minute penalty that could have been critical but then, after the visitors criminally conceded another penalty despite holding a man advantage, showed great guile to chip ahead for Bulumakau to get in sight of his hat-trick.
Carnegie No8 Ryan Burrows somehow denied him and Doherty then just stopped David Clark from the offload.
However, the ball was moved sharply to the left where Matt Challinor unselfishly fed Hills - back after missing last week’s draw at Ealing - to send the home fans delirious, Knights now ten games unbeaten in the league.
It was a fittingly stunning end to what had been an excellent game of rugby, both sides often looking to spread the ball rather than rely on their strength in the line-out drive.
It also saw Doncaster take a try bonus point, Simon Humberstone - a first half replacement after full-back Paul Jarvis suffered a serious foot injury - having wonderfully stepped through in the 47th minute for their third try.
Carnegie responded to that via Seb Stegmann’s try, Burrows having got their first on the half-hour, but Harry Leonard was wide with his conversion attempt.
Indeed, the Scot only improved one of his side’s four tries as well as kicking two penalties.
In contrast, Cusack, in the absence of injured Dougie Flockhart, slotted all four of his conversions and two penalties as well.
Doncaster Knights: Jarvis (Humberstone 38); Bulumakau, Clark, Hurrrell, Tyson; Cusack, Heaney; List (Pasquali 63), Hunter (Stagg 73), Quigley (John 63), Challinor, Phelan (Hotson 63), Makaafi (Young 76), Hills, Shaw.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Holmes; Stegmann, Lucock (Hodgson 59), Casson (Forsyth 49), Doherty; Leonard, Pilgrim; Beech (Boyce 67), Nilsen, O’Donnell (Hooper 67), Schofield, Smith, Jones (Williams 40), Saull (Walker 56), Burrows.
Referee: Luke Pearce (RFU)