As the Knights fell to their fourth consecutive Championship defeat, director of rugby Clive Griffiths, whose squad is struggling to compete without six major players, revealed the name of one recruit – Willgriff John, the former Wales Under-20 prop, who has been playing in New Zealand.
It’s also understood that another forward may also be on his way – a Fijian hooker.
Griffiths is keen, too, to strengthen his back line because of injuries to centres Matt Clark and Andrew Bulumakau. A temporary replacement played against London Scottish, George Catchpole, on loan from Leicester Tigers, but Doncaster are not certain for how long this promising three-quarter will be available.
The current period is most stressful for Griffiths, who watched his team throw away a losing bonus point which they appeared to have confirmed.
“I am trying to get full-time replacements in, and the problem with players like Catchpole is that you never know if and when they are going to be here,” he said.
“I was delighted with the boys’ efforts against London Scottish and we were a far cry from the performance the previous week against Moseley.
“They played with guts and determination, we defended well and matched Scottish in most departments. I thought they got away with so much, but I have to be careful what I say about referees.
“We should have got something out of the game but ended up with nothing. We are desperate for a win and we’ve got to get points to stay in this league.”
What particularly angered Griffiths was the decision to award a penalty against Canadian forward Tyler Hotson in the third minute of stoppage time.
Two minutes earlier, Doncaster seemed to have earned the losing bonus point their commitment deserved when winger Dougie Flockhart put over his third penalty.
Flockhart’s kick reduced the Scottish lead to 16-9 and with time running out, Doncaster needed to be cautious. The priority had to be to put the ball into Scottish territory as quickly as possible.
Instead of kicking the ball deep or out of play, Doncaster tried to retain possession by taking on their opponents; the approach failed and, rightly or wrongly, the referee penalised Hotson in his own 22.
The fears of Doncaster’s loyal supporters proved to be correct as the ‘83rd-minute’ kick from London Scottish full-back Peter Lydon flew between the posts.
It was a sickening blow that angered Griffiths: “The referee’s decision cost us just as it did at Bristol recently.
“It was a brutal decision. We should have settled for the point, and I hope it does not come back to haunt us.”
Doncaster should have scored on 25 minutes. Forwards Matt Challinor, Alex Shaw, Michael Hills and Phil Eggleshaw were prominent in attacks, but when Doncaster knocked on, the promise of a try evaporated.
Flockhart’s second penalty in the 45th cut the gap to 8-6 in Scottish’s favour, but 20 minutes later, for the second time, the opposition showed how to create and take scoring opportunities.
Once again London Scottish scrum-half Matt Heeks played the influential role. Just as he had spotted the opening to dash to the line in the first half, Heeks featured in the move which ended with former Doncaster winger Matt Williams scoring in the corner to finish an attack that stretched the lead to 16-6.
After this setback, Doncaster turn their attention again to the British and Irish Cup where they are enjoying greater success. Top of Pool Four after three straight wins, the Knights play Bedford on Friday evening and then take on Cornish Pirates (away) before the return fixture at Castle Park against Cross Keys.
Doncaster Knights: Jarvis, Flockhart, Catchpole, Armitage, Lewis (Hihetah 78), Roberts, Bravo (Maplesden 70), List (Cosgrove 69), Hunter (Bergmanas 75), Quigley (Pasquali 67), Challinor, Hotson, Eggleshaw, Hills, Shaw.
London Scottish: Lydon, Williams, Millar (Auld 40), Gidlow, Mantella, Newton, Heels, Hallam (Lilley 72), Kwasmicki, Prescott (Maidment 60), Phillips, Gillanders (Tuisamoa 52), Chisholm, Best, Bright.
Referee: D Gamage.