Doncaster Knights 33 Coventry 44: Woeful Doncaster fall as Coventry end away day misery

Doncaster's Dwayne Polataivao takes on Coventry (PIC: Johnathan Gawthorpe)
Doncaster's Dwayne Polataivao takes on Coventry (PIC: Johnathan Gawthorpe)
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MISTAKE-RIDDEN Doncaster Knights became the first side to lose a home game to Coventry all season following another frustrating afternoon at Castle Park.

It has taken Coventry 15 attempts to win on the road this term but they finally got off the mark with just one fixture now remaining.

Doncaster's Ryan Burrows steps out of a Coventry tackle. (PIC: Johnathan Gawthorpe)

Doncaster's Ryan Burrows steps out of a Coventry tackle. (PIC: Johnathan Gawthorpe)

However, as good as the visitors were at times, Doncaster’s continued errors and laxness certainly aided them.

Clive Griffiths’ side had been 24-8 behind at one point but fought back with drive-over tries from replacements James Malcolm and Colin Quigley to trail just 31-28 heading into the last eight minutes.

Summing up their afternoon, though, they then cheaply lost the ball in the restart after Quigley’s effort and all momentum was lost.

Instead, Coventry fly-half Will Maisey slotted a penalty - he finished with 21 points - and full-back David Halaifonua sealed victory with their fifth try in injury-time.

Admittedly, Tom James finished off a fine break from Cameron Cowell - the full-back who impressed having switched to fly-half following Sam Olver’s first half shoulder injury - and that saw the hosts secure a try bonus point.

But Dougie Flockhart missed the relatively simple conversion attempt - he also hit an upright with an earlier penalty - to mean Doncaster missed out on a losing bonus point.

It was a third defeat in four games ahead of their final Championship fixture at home to Cornish Pirates next Saturday and they look like a side ready for the campaign to be over.

They have only won at Castle Park five times this term and - slipping to 10th - desperately need to finish with a flourish next week.

The likes of Quigley, Matt Challinor and Michael Hills made a genuine impact off the bench but it was all in vain.

Prop Robin Hislop - one of their better performers this season - was sin-binned just 46 seconds after the break for a swinging arm.

Flockhart actually scored a penalty while he was off but then, pre-empting what was to come later, they lost the restart.

Coventry drove over via Darren Dawidiuk after Doncaster were penalised and then marched a further 10m for dissent.

It was the second time in the contest that had occurred and the sort of infuriating ill-discipline that cost them so dearly.

Doncaster trailed 24-11 at the interval having gifted Coventry tries at the start and finish of the first period.

The game was only four minutes old when, with Knights scrum-half Dwayne Polataivao waiting to clear from behind a ruck on his own goalline, quick-thinking Coventry prop James Gibbons pounced as the ball appeared.

It was a soft try to concede but arguably worse was to come in the 36th minute when Ryan Burrows - who joins Coventry at the end of the season - flicked a pass back without looking after Rory Pitman had claimed a kick.

There was no Doncaster team-mate present but Maisey was, the Coventry No10 having a simple unopposed 40m run to the line.

Knights still had a chance to rescue something from the half when Charlie Beech - who moved from Coventry last month - made a 40m break but the prop only had lock Nick Civetta in support.

When the rest did arrive, Burrows wasted a clear overlap and they could only settle for Flockhart’s second penalty.

They had led 8-7 when Paul Jarvis, having switched from wing to full-back following Olver’s injury, popped up when play was switched following a strong line-out drive in the

Flockhart converted but Will Owen - the former Rotherham centre who only recently left Doncaster - quickly finished off a move when the midfield was splintered once more although there was a hint of a forward pass in the build-up.

Maisey converted and then added a penalty for the first of those dissent penalties.

Doncaster Knights: Cowell; Flockhart, Roberts, Foley, Jarvis; Olver (Wilson 21), Polataivao; Hislop (List 80), Hunter (Malcolm 63), Beech, Eames, Civetta, Burrows, Calladine, Pitman (List 44-54).

Coventry: Halaifonua; A Bulumakau (J Bulumakau 64), Stevens, Owen, Trimble; Maisey, White (Kessell 53); Gibbons, Dawidiuk (Tolmie 68), Brighouse (Boulton 46), Russell, Woolford, Nutley, Ram, Adams.

Referee: Neil Chivers (RFU)