Doncaster 18 Toulouse 38: French class too much for brave Dons
The Dons failed in their bid to become the first side to lower Toulouse's colours in yesterday's League One Super 8s clash at the Keepmoat Stadium.
But they made the full-time French side, just as they had done in Toulouse, work hard for their win in a game which was a fine advert for League One.
Toulouse’s class was evident from the off, but it was the Dons who edged the opening exchanges and skipper Kyle Kesik went close to forcing his way over from acting half-back under the posts on nine minutes.
Toulouse rode their luck and opened their account when winger Kuni Minga – the top scorer in the division this season - sprinted in at the corner for a tenth-minute converted try to reward some trademark handling and support play.
The Dons hit back with a well-worked try of their own, winger David Foggin-Johnson bumping off a defender close to the line to claim his fourth try in three play-off games.
Full-back Tom Carr, who had played his part in the build-up, converted the 12th minute try from touch to level the scores.
Brad Nicholson was held on the line four minutes later as the Dons continued to take the game to Toulouse, but it was the visitors who were the next side to trouble the scoreboard operator with a converted try by second-rower Rhys Curran on 25 minutes.
Hooker Ryan Wright was adjudged to have been tackled just short when many felt he had got the ball on the line during another spell of Doncaster pressure on the half-hour.
Toulouse elected to run a 20m penalty on 38 minutes in the hopes of scoring a third try but a forward pass put paid to their plans.
The visitors, who went close during the last play of the half, stretched their lead to 16-6 with an unconverted try by lanky stand-off Johnathon Ford - an influential figure throughout –four minutes after the restart.
Although they were still in the game, Dons knew they needed to score next and they did just that – veteran prop Makali Aizue crashing over near enough for Carr to convert.
Foggin-Johnson looked to have levelled the scores on 51 minutes but the referee, who was well positioned to make the call, ruled Carr’s long pass forward.
Toulouse gave themselves a little more breathing space with a scrappy converted try by Curran on 55 minutes – following several strong drives - which restored their ten point lead.
The Dons hit back just before the hour when loose-forward George Milton sent Nicholson over for a converted try to make it 18-22.
Their joy didn’t last long, however, Toulouse scoring two close-range converted tries in quick succession to lead 34-18.
They finished the stronger side and full-back Mark Kheirallah, who hit the post with his conversion, rounded off the scoring with a 77th minute try.
Dons:Carr; Foggin-Johnson,L Welham, Doherty,Sheriff; Howden, Cross, Castle, Kesik,Scott, B Nicholson, Walton, Milton. Subs: Wright, Aizue, Paleaaesina, Pickets-O’Donnell.