Doncaster, not enjoying the best of campaigns, took a significant step towards confirming their Championship status for next season with this important victory at Castle Park against opponents whose future at this level may be uncertain.
Following this vital win, the eighth only in 19 league matches, was guaranteed by a thrilling last minute try from Samoan number eight Josh Tyrell, his second of the contest, Knights have moved up to seventh in the table on 41 points.
With three games remaining against Yorkshire Carnegie (away) and two at home – Coventry and Cornish Pirates – the Knights reckon they need one more point only to be absolutely sure of Championship rugby in 2019-20.
Director of Rugby Clive Griffiths is no doubt being over cautious in his calculations, and in any case his preparations for next season, which will be his last under the present contract, are proceeding quickly.
It’s expected that another five or six new signings will be announced this week as the club strengthen their squad to achieve the ambition of developing a side that finishes regularly in the top four.
Doncaster officials are planning for the post-Griffiths era and last week began interviews for the post of Head Coach who will work alongside the Welshman and take over next spring.
It’s understood that six candidates of high quality are on the short list but they do not include Andy Robinson, the former England and Scotland coach.
As to the present, Doncaster’s win against London Scottish earned them a maximum of five points, but they had to wait until added time to ensure success.
In a climax of high drama and with the scores level at 21-21, Scottish fly-half Rory Jennings attempted a drop goal from 20 metres or so to win the game with 82 minutes on the clock.
However, instantly Jennings’ kick was charged down by outstanding flanker Ollie Stedman and impressive prop Charlie Beech in a pack that recovered strongly in the second half.
Stedman gathered the ball and as the counter-attack grew in numbers, within seconds Doncaster’s forwards were launching raids on Scottish’s line.
Tyrell, who’s joining French club Oyannax, was a constant menace and had earlier smashed his way through on 68 minutes for his first and Doncaster’s third try, was again perfectly placed to charge through for the match winning score.
His bonus point try provided a lead of 26-21 and with winger Dougie Flockhart striking his fourth conversion, Doncaster had grabbed a much-needed victory which had seemed in doubt after a mediocre first half in which they were losing 14-7 at the interval.
Scottish, unlucky to lose having scored three tries on 19, 36 and 72 minutes, departed with one point only and must ask themselves why they allowed Doncaster to recover in the second half during which centre Jack Roberts, formerly at Rotherham Titans and Leicester Tigers, completed a satisfactory Championship debut for his new club by scoring a try on 52 minutes as he completed a move begun by Tyrell.
Doncaster Knights: Cowell, Flockhart, Roberts, Clark, Jarvis, Olver (Morath 62), James, Hislop (List 71), Hunter (Mayhew 71), Beech (Sproston), Civetta, Hicks (Challinor 56), Stedman, Hills (Burrows), Tyrell.
London Scottish: Ingall, Stevenson, Grffiths, Vernon, Beattie, Jennings, Hoadley (Barton 19/Hart 75), Harris (Brodley 52), Saunders, Palframan (Cringle 26), Hodge (Wakeling 71), Vukasinovic, Uanivi, Tyas, Bright.
Referee: John Meredith.