Head coach Paul Turner was left ‘devastated’ as Doncaster took victory with a final play, length of the field try from wing Jack Spittle.
Having led 18-3 at halftime, Ampthill let Doncaster back into the game with two tries in the final five minutes completing a remarkable comeback win.
“Last week I felt broken that we didn’t take advantage and get four points out of Jersey because I felt we deserved that,” Turner said.
“This week, I spoke to the boys at half time and said we’re 18-3 up and we haven’t really done anything. We hadn’t played; our set-piece wasn’t good enough, our lineout wasn’t functioning, but we were 18-3 up.
“Doncaster are a professional side and give them enough opportunities and they’ll take one. Unfortunately, it was with the last play of the game. We fell short and I’m devastated.”
Following an early exchange of penalties, Ampthill scored three unconverted tries in the space of 13 minutes to take control of the game at Dillingham Park.
The first followed quick hands through Kevin Barrett and Russell Bennett feeding Austin Wallis out wide on the right. Ampthill captain Charlie Beckett added the second, before Billy Harding scored the third finding an overlap in the Doncaster 22.
Doncaster came back strong in the second half. Ampthill had an early opportunity for their bonus point with a break from Barrett and Josh Skelcey failing a meter short of the Doncaster line –a great recovery tackle from Mark Best. From there the Knights raised their game to take control and came back with three tries of their own – the first from a tap and go by Josh Peters. Centre Best then broke the line for a second right of posts, leaving an easy conversion for Sam Olver, before Spittle took his moment and broke Ampthill hearts.
With a minute on the clock, Amps had a lineout on the Doncaster five-metre line. Doncaster split the pack, stole the ball, and fed Spittle who sprinted away to score.
Doncaster coach Steve Boden said: “Credit to Ampthill, I think the better side lost the game today and they deserved a lot more out of it. Testament to us, we didn’t give up and stayed in the fight.
AMPTHILL: Smith 6; Goodchild 6, Hudson 6, Hartley 8, Skelcey 8 (Dunn 73, 5), Bennett 6, Barrett 7 (Fenley 52, 5); Crean 7 (Thornton 52, 5), Harding 7, Lutui 6 (Seward 45, 6), Beckett (c) 6 Jones 6 (Burgess 66, 4), Arthur 6, Wallis 7 (Dickinson 73, 5), Monks 6 (Stonham 52, 6)
Not used: Sharp
DONCASTER: Davey 6 (McBryde 63, 6), Evans 6, Strachan 6, Best 7, Spittle 7, Olver 6, Dolly 7; Cade 6 (Vaughan 59, 6), Edgson 6 (Roberts 52, 6), Denman 5 (Foster 52, 6), Drake 7, Peters 6, Davies 6 (Kelly 49, 6), Graham (c) 6, Volpi 7 (Hudson 49, 6)
Not used: Green, Margetts
Tries: Wallis, Beckett 33, Harding 36
Penalties: Bennett 5
Tries: Peters 62, Best 76, Spittle 80
Conversions: Olver 76
Penalties: Olver 16
REFEREE: James Woodthorpe
Comfort Homecare Man of the Match: Ollie Hartley