Doncaster RLFC 28 London Skolars 28: Skolars comeback frustrates Dons

Gary Thornton
Gary Thornton

Doncaster RLFC had to settle for a share of the spoils as London Skolars came from behind to force a 28-28 League One draw at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Disappointing though the result was for the home side, who looked to be well on their way to their first win in three league games at the break, it could have been worse had Skolars not missed with a late penalty and drop goal attempt.

The Dons, who missed the creative spark of the injured half-back Kieran Cross, now find themselves five points adrift of the top two down in seventh place and to add to their problems loose-forward Jason Muranka (ribs) and prop Feka Paleaaesina both picked up injuries likely to rule them out of this weekend’s game at Hemel.

Dons boss Gary Thornton had hoped his side would build on their spirited second half showing in their Challenge Cup defeat at Leeds last time out, and he had reason to be pleased with the team’s first half show as they raced into a 22-4 lead against the physical Skolars who had relied mostly on their huge pack.

But the second half proved to be a different story and Skolars, who dominated possession, finished the stronger side.

Both sides had players held up over the line prior to Dons skipper Kyle Kesik breaking the deadlock on 17 minutes with a trademark try from acting half-back close to the line which full-back Tom Carr to converted.

The Dons opened up a 10-0 lead on 24 minutes when centre Jason Tali crossed out wide from close range.

Wing Aaron Jones-Bishop, who had earlier being stopped just short by full-back Jake Melling, dropped the ball over the line in the act of scoring.

The home side extended their lead just short of the half-hour mark when Muranka reached out of the tackle to touch down near enough for Carr to convert.

Muranka picked up a knock in scoring and took no further part in the game.

Skolars, whose big forwards ran hard and straight throughout, cut the deficit when winger Sam Nash dived over in the corner to reward some snappy handling in the build-up

Thornton’s men struck again on the hooter – Tali holding on to stand-in stand-off Louis Sheriff’s try-scoring pass to bag his second.

Skolars were quick out of the blocks after the restart with hooker Ben Pointer crossing from close range for a try goaled by classy stand-off Jy-mel Coleman, playing his first game of the season.

Tali touched down for his hat-trick try after Skolars had failed to deal with a bouncing ball on their line. Jack Miller added the extras to make it 28-10.

Despite having a man in the sin-bin Skolars cut the deficit to 12 points with another converted try by Sadiq Adebiyi.

Jones-Bishop bombed another good chance and it was to prove crucial as Skolars added two further close-range tries to get themselves into a position where they could have won the game.

Dons: Carr, Doherty, Welham, Tali, Jones-Bishop, Sheriff, Miller; Castle, Kesik, Spiers, England, C Martin, Muranka. Subs: Wright, Paleaaesina, Scott, Hedges.

London Skolars: Melling, Nash, Juma, Allison, Brown, Coleman, Lyon; Bustin, Lawrence, Williams, Greenlaugh, Bryan, Chester. Subs: Pointer, Vavega, W Martin, Adebiyi.