Doncaster Knights’ grip on a top-four spot loosened dramatically as a defeat to Cornish Pirates left them facing a huge game against Jersey in two weeks.
Doncaster are fourth with two games to go, two points ahead of Jersey – who visit Castle Park on Saturday week fresh from ending London Irish’s unbeaten record – and a further two ahead of Cornish Pirates, who might yet pinch a play-off spot.
Fresh from a significant win over county rivals Yorkshire Carnegie seven days earlier, Knights went into the game on the back of three straight wins, but Mennaye Field has always been a tough place to visit down the years.
Forward power gave Pirates a 14-0 advantage midway through the first half, the opening try by way of a penalty try and the second a score by Max Bodilly.
A penalty by Dougie Flockhart kept Doncaster in the contest but it was two tries by Kyle Moyle either side of the break that took the game away from the Knights.
The winger’s first, courtesy of a smart move on the 10m line, was a gem and even though hooker Ben Hunter crossed for Doncaster late on in the first half, Moyle’s second effectively ended the contest and secured the hosts a priceless bonus point.
Clive Griffiths’ side looked down and out, and a further three points from the boot of Laurence May, edged them further ahead. There was still time for a consolation try, with Doncaster’s former Pirate and current Canada international bundling over the line.
This could be a damaging result though for Doncaster, who – with unbeaten leaders London Irish still to play – must beat Jersey in two weeks to seal a play-off spot.