Hunslet Hawks 14 Doncaster RLFC 30: Dons boost play-offs hopes with victory over promotion rivals
Doncaster RLFC gave their Betfred League One play-off hopes a massive boost with a 30-14 win over promotion rivals Hunslet at the South Leeds Stadium.
In avenging a 35-16 defeat at the Keepmoat Stadium in May, the seventh-placed Dons beat a side who started the game above them for the first time this season.
The Dons trailed by two points at the break but dominated the second half and scored 24 points without reply to sentence Hunslet to a third successive defeat.
The Dons flew out of their blocks on the pitch surrounded by an athletic track, when second-rower Frankie Mariano was held up over the line in the second minute following a strong run.
The visitors continued to look dangerous in attack prior to having to display their defensive qualities following a 40-20 kick. Hooker Kyle Kesik was held up over the line after going from acting half-back.
Winger Sam Doherty just failed to get on the end of a kick to the corner by stand-off Jordan Howden as the Dons continued to dominate the exchanges.
Scrum-half Matty Beharrell put Mariano through in the Hunslet 20 and but for a try-saving tackle by full-back Jimmy Watson he would have opened the scoring.
The Dons pressure paid off when prop Connor Scott burst through at pace from the resulting penalty for an 18th minute try which full-back Jack Sanderson converted.
Hunslet had been under pressure for much of the first quarter and were fortunate not to be further behind when drawing level with a close-range converted try by hooker Jack Lee.
The Dons suffered a double blow in quick succession when Beharrrell was harshly sin-binned for a high tackle on 33 minutes and Hunslet’s strong-running centre Nathan Chappell touched down for a converted try to make it 12-6.
But for the referee ruling that Duane Straugheir’s pass to Cain Southernwood was forward the Dons would have found themselves even further behind.
Hunslet did increase their lead before the break with an injury-time penalty by Joe Sanderson.
The Dons cut the deficit to just two points when second-rower Charlie Martin touched down from close range for a converted try within three minutes of the restart.
Dons centre Jason Tali, who signed a new three-year contract in midweek, put down a try-scoring pass in the Hunslet on 56 minutes. Martin then lost the ball in a similar position.
The Dons regained the lead when touching down on the hour following good work by Russ Spiers and Connor Scott in the build-up.
Sanderson tagged on the extras to secure the Dons an 18-14 lead.
The Dons were in again within a couple of minutes when Jez Litten broke through and kicked for the corner where Tali gathered. Sanderson’s touchline conversion made it 24-14.
Sanderson put the result beyond doubt when Sanderson latched on to a Hunslet grubber kick and raced past several defenders on a 90 metre run to the line for a try converted by Beharrell.
The rampant visitors would have been in again but for Martin spilling Beharrell’s pass.
Dons: Sanderson, Doherty, Scott, Tali, Owen, Howden,Beharrell; Spiers, Kesik, Scott, Mariano, England, Lane, Boyle, Hedges, Litten, Martin.