Rugby Union: Doncaster Knights 21 Rotherham Titans 23 - 3,676 see Castle Park thriller

Ali Birch takes the ball from the line out
Ali Birch takes the ball from the line out

Rotherham Titans checked their slide down the Championship table with a thrilling 23-21 South Yorkshire derby win over Doncaster Knights at Castle Park.

Knights, who have now lost their last six league games, looked to have snatched the spoils after overturning a 20-9 deficit only to see James McKinney win it for Titans with a late penalty.

Knights drew first blood with a 40m penalty by wing Dougie Flockhart after the visitors had been penalised at a fifth-minute scrum.

The home side continued to edge the exchanges and little had been seen of Titans in attack until the 11th minute.

Full-back Sean Scanlon ran on to a clever cut-out pass around the halfway line and raced clear only to be hauled down just short of the line by his opposite number Paul Jarvis.

Knights did well to survive a sustained spell of pressure in their own 22 at the start of the second quarter but it was no more than Titans deserved when fly-half McKinnney levelled the scores with a penalty on the half-hour.

Knights returned to the attack but both George Catchpole and Brad Field failed to find their support in separate raids just inside the Rotherham 22.

Titans, looking to move the ball wide at every opportunity, grabbed a 10-3 lead with a superb 37th minute try.

Centre Lloyd Hayes made the initial break after the ball had been moved at pace from a lineout on the halfway and he fended off several defenders before sending former Knights’ favourite Michael Keating over from close range for a try goaled by McKinney.

Flockhart lifted Doncaster spirits with an excellent angled 40m penalty with the last kick of the half.

Both sides exchanged penalties in the third quarter before Keating latched on to a risky pass by fly-half Piers Francis, as Knights looked to run the ball out of their own half from a scrum, and kicked on before touching down for a converted try to make it 20-9.

Just when it looked as though Knights were down and out, replacement flanker Phil Eggleshaw touched down for an unconverted try on 66 minutes after wing Andy Bulumakau had been held just short.

They hit the front on 74 minutes as Jarvis, who popped up out wide, evaded two defenders before reaching out for Doncaster’s second try which Flockhart goaled to make it 21-20.

Doncaster’s joy was short-lived, however, with McKinney punishing a ruck infringement.

Knights: Jarvis, Flockhart, Armitage, Bulumakau, Francis, Field, Bergmanas, Hunter, Quigley,Challinor. Phelan, Makaafi, Hills, Shaw: Rep:Ross Davies, Veikoso, Hotson, John, Eggleshaw, Roberts, Palu.

Titans: Scanlon, Keating, Hayes, Jordan Davies, Gill, McKinney, White, Hislop, Preece, Tampin, Parker, Holmes, Maddison, Birch, Rieder. Rep: Matthews, Gadd, Macklin, Ryan, Morris, Mitchell, Barrett.

Attendance: 3,676.