FURIOUS coach Gary Mercer bemoaned his side’s lack of discipline as 14-man Yorkshire Carnegie slipped to defeat at home to Doncaster Knights.
Hooker Phil Nilsen was red-carded in the 39th minute for a dangerous challenge on centre Bevan Armitage – the second Yorkshire player to be dismissed in as many weeks following Nathan Hannay’s sending-off in the win at Moseley.
Long-serving Nilsen could perhaps feel unlucky with his, after smashing his opponent with a hard hit, only to see referee Steve Lee deem Armitage had then risen above the horizontal position.
The Yorkshire player also went on to let go of the player mid-air to make the official’s decision easier.
Dougie Flockhart kicked the penalty to put Doncaster 13-10 ahead but the hosts still had ample opportunities to take control of the game and actually led 17-13 after 56 minutes.
A series of unforced errors then saw their promoted rivals force their way back in and, to add insult to injury, Yorkshire spurned a kickable penalty in injury-time to miss out on a bonus point, too. The otherwise excellent fly-half Harry Leonard nearly stretched over the line in the final play but fumbled in the process.
“I’m really disappointed,” admitted Mercer, who has won two of his opening four games since taking charge.
“It was inevitable it was going to happen and I’m just glad it happened now early in the season.
“I know where we are now as a group and the players know what I’m about. It’s a tough one to take especially at home.
“We’ve lost a man early with a red card and in the previous game we had a sending-off and two yellows so ill-discipline is killing us at the moment.
“I’ve had a quick look at the red card and it’s annoying.
“It’s something we have to sort out. And there was a couple of schoolboy errors in the second half that I actually thought cost us the match.”
They got off to a bad start, too, when winger Christian Georgiou was sin-binned for checking Matt Clark as they both chased Jamie Lennard’s kick, Doncaster awarded a penalty try and Flockhart kicking the first of his five goals.
The visitors were reduced to 14 men, though, when prop Tom Quigley was penalised for a professional foul close and, with Georgiou readying himself to return, Jon Clarke surged onto Leonard’s cut-out pass to power over.
Flockhart responded with his first penalty before Leonard put full-back David McIlwaine over in the 34th minute and Yorkshire – who lost lock Liam Edwards to injury soon after – started brightly in the second period when prop Lee Imiolek crashed over untouched between the posts for Leonard to convert.
But Tyson Lewis responded for Doncaster in the 57th minute and then Yorkshire erred badly with a lineout overthrow which Michael Hills snaffled up to send Flockhart racing in from 40m for another improved score.
Leonard responded with two penalties but Josh Bainbridge conceded a needless penalty to end their growing momentum and gift position for Doncaster’s Latu Makaafi to be bundled over from a line-out charge.
Flockhart’s conversion attempt hit an upright so, when Leonard made another break and was infringed in front of the posts, the hosts had that kickable penalty but they were eventually left rueing the decision not to take it.
Yorkshire Carnegie: McIlwaine; Goss, Clarke (Vickerman 47), Lucock, Georgiou; Leonard, Pilgrim (Fitzpatrick 62); Imiolek (Harris 61), Nilsen, Hooper (Tideswell 40), Edwards (Ramshaw 40), Casson, Barnard (Hayes 40), Walker (Bainbridge 40), Burrows.
Doncaster Knights: Jarvis; Flockhart, Clark, Armitage (Bulumakau 47), Lewis; Lennard (Roberts 71), Palu (Bravo 68); Davies (Richard 55), Hunter, Quigley (Makaafi 23-33, Quigley 68), Challinor, Phelan (Hotson 72), Makaafi, Hill, Shaw.
Referee: Steve Lee (RFU).