A young Newcastle Falcons side offered plenty but ultimately left Castle Park with a defeat to Championship semi-finalists Doncaster Knights on Saturday.
The Falcons were on the defensive during the early exchanges, and trailed 3-0 inside five minutes when home fly-half Simon Humberstone sent over a penalty from 35 metres, just left of centre.
Newcastle showed up well in the set-piece as skipper Ryan Burrows rose high at the tail of a line-out to grab Santiago Socino’s pin-point throw, but his side trailed by 10 when Charlie Foley’s line-break created a simple try for scrum-half Tom James, converted by Humberstone.
The visitors hit back on 14 minutes when, after a series of close-range phases, Fiji lock Tevita Cavubati powered over for a pick-and-go try, converted by Craig Willis.
It was no more than the Falcons deserved after a period of sustained forward pressure, but their decision to over-play in the back line was punished on 20 minutes when Doncaster intercepted the loose ball and, through a series of offloads, created a try for Humberstone.
The fly-half converted his own score, and was again the provider of points when midfield offside just after the half-hour mark presented him with the simplest of penalties.
That was the final scoring contribution of the opening half as the Knights took a 20-7 lead into the interval, Newcastle beginning the second half the brighter and opening the scoring through Ruaridh Dawson on 45 minutes.
That was when the Scotland Under-20s scrum-half collected a scoring pass from Harrison Orr, who had broken through the middle of a ruck 10 metres out after Cowell put Charlie Wilson through a midfield hole.
Doncaster replied with a penalty from Dec Cusack and went further ahead when Tyson Lewis grounded their third try in the left corner, but Newcastle replied on the hour mark when Harrison Orr hit a super running line and burst through his man to score.
Willis added the extras, an entertaining contest turning the way of the hosts once again when replacement hooker Curtis Langdon scored for Doncaster down the left. The conversion extended their advantage to 35-19 going into the final 10 minutes, a bridge which would prove too much for the Falcons to cross.
Not that they threw in the towel, James Elliott beating three defenders to score from a Wilson offload as the visitors kept the ball in hand in a free-flowing finish to the game.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Adam Radwan, 14 James Elliott, 13 Cameron Cowell, 12 Charlie Wilson, 11 Aedan Moloney, 10 Craig Willis, 9 Ruaridh Dawson; 1 Sami Mavinga, 2 Santiago Socino, 3 Trevor Davison, 4 Josh Williams, 5 Tevita Cavubati, 6 Harrison Orr, 7 Simon Uzokwe, 8 Ryan Burrows (captain).
Replacements: 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Diogo Ferreira, 18 Adam Brocklebank, 19 Rob Farrar, 20 Oli Robinson, 21 Jake Rodgers, 22 Liam Checksfield.
Falcons scorers – Tries: Tevita Cavubati, Ruaridh Dawson, Harrison Orr, James Elliott. Conversions: Craig Willis 3.
Doncaster Knights: 15 Paul Jarvis, 14 Junior Bulumakau, 13 Charlie Foley, 12 Will Owen, 11 Tyson Lewis, 10 Simon Humberstone, 9 Tom James, 1 Rich List, 2 Ben Hunter, 3 Colin Quigley, 4 Matt Challinor, 5 Morgan Eames, 6 Sam Jones, 7 Michael Hills (captain), 8 Aaron Carpenter.
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Jack Bergmanas, 18 Joe Sproston 19 Tom Hicks, 20 Alex Shaw, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Dec Cusack, (Blank shirts) Owen Evans, Ian Williams, Jason Hill, Brett Connon, James Wright, Seva Bulumakau.
Doncaster scorers – Tries: Tom James, Simon Humberstone, Tyson Lewis, Curtis Langdon. Conversions: Simon Humberstone 2, Dec Cusack. Penalties: Simon Humberstone 2, Dec Cusack.