Doncaster RLFC 24 Keighley Cougars 32: Shock home defeat blow to Super8s hopes
Doncaster's hopes of qualifying for the League One Super 8s play-offs suffered a major blow as they were beaten 32-24 by Keighley Cougars at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Keighley laid the foundations for what was a shock, though thoroughly deserved win, in the first half as they scored four converted tries to lead 24-10 at the break.
With half-backs Matty Beharrell and Adam Brook pulling the strings and their forwards running hard and strong, the visitors dominated the first half territorially after falling behind early on.
The Dons took the lead slightly against the run of play on eight minutes when stand-off Reece Dean, who had played full-back in recent games, got away down the right to set up a debut try for winger Ryan Jones in the corner.
Skipper Kyle Kesik went close to a second try on 13 minutes.but dropped the ball over the line.
The visitors rode their luck and instead of finding themselves 8-0 down with the conversion to come, opened up a 6-4 lead a minute later following a converted try by prop Matthew Bailey.
Keighley extended their lead on 22 minutes with another close-range try by Bailey. Beharrell again added the extras to make it 12-4.
The game continued to be played in the Doncaster 20 and Keighley went close to a third try on 26 minutes and on the rare occasions the Dons mounted an attack the move invariably broke down.
Keighley winger Andrew Gabriel touched down out wide for a third converted try on 32 minutes.
Worst was to follow as centre Adam Ryder left the cover for dead when racing in for Keighley’s fourth converted try two minutes before the break.
Hooker Keiran Cross threw his side a badly-needed lifeline, scoring from close range on the hooter near enough for Miller to convert to make it 24-10.
The Dons knew they realistically needed to score first after the break and Cross went close to doing just that during a determined start to the second half.
Winger Sam Doherty also had a try disallowed for, what at best must have been a marginally forward pass, on 50 minutes.
The Dons were left with a mountain to climb on 54 minutes when second-rower Brendan Rawlings powered his way over for Keighley’s fifth to open up a 30-10 lead.
Centre Chris Welham crossed from close range, near enough for Miller to convert, on the hour.
Doherty brought the subdued home fans back to life when showing good pace to score out wide four minutes later to raise hopes of a grandstand finish.
Unfortunately for Richard Horne’s men that failed to materialise though it could have been a different story had second-rower Charlie Martin, held just short, managed to score.
Beharrell’s 73rd minute penalty left the Dons needing two converted tries to salvage a result.
They managed one through Nick Rawsthorne at the death but it was too little too late.
Dons: Carr, Jones, Welham, Rawsthorne, Doherty, Dean, Miller; Braham, Kesik, Spiers, Martin, England, Green. Subs: Paleaaesina, Cross, Thackray, Muranka.