Newcastle Thunder 35 Doncaster RLFC 34: Dons pipped despite Tali try hat-trick
Doncaster RLFC's hopes of a fourth successive League One win were dashed by Newcastle Thunder at Kingston Park
The second-placed Dons, who had fancied their chances against mid-table Thunder, lost 35-34 in a high-scoring encounter on the club’s 4G pitch.
With Keighley winning the Dons drop a place to third.
The home side made most of the early running and it was against the run of play when Matty Nicholson sent his younger brother Brad under the posts on seven minutes for a try goaled by full-back Tom Carr.
The Dons were held just short on several occasions before skipper Kyle Kesik helped set-up a 12th minute try for winger David Foggin-Johnson on his return following several weeks on the sidelines.
Carr again added the extras to leave the home side trailing 12-0.
There was a let-off for the Keepmoat Stadium side when Ali Blair failed to punish a mistake by Foggin-Johnson, but it only proved a stay of execution with Vincent Rennie crashing over for a try at the end of the first quarter.
Ben Hardcastle added the extras before scoring a well-taken individual try which closed the gap to just two points.
The Doncaster cover got back to nail Aarron Teroi but they couldn’t deny Joe Brown shortly following some good handing.
But for Teroi knocking on in the act of scoring the Dons would have fallen further behind.
The Dons rode their luck and regained the lead on the stroke of half-time when centre Jason Tali scored against his own club.
Carr again added the extras to give his side an 18-14 interval lead.
The lead changed hands again four minutes after the restart with Brown scoring his second converted try.
Thunder struck again through Lee Paterson minutes later with Hardcastle’s conversion extending their lead to eight points.
Tali and Foggin-Johnson combine well to no avail.
The Dons continued to struggle when Newcastle moved the ball wide and former winger Peter Fox touched down for a converted try which left Gary Thornton’s men trailing 32-18 at the start of the final quarter.
Their hopes rose when Tali touched down for his second try on 61 minutes after getting on the end of Carr’s kick to the corner.
It looked to be ‘game on’ when the Papua New Guinea star completed his hat-trick from another grubber by Carr, who added the extras this time, to make it 32-28.
Hardcastle gave his side a bit more breathing space with a penalty.
The Dons returned to the attack but don’t get the bounce of the ball and fell further behind following a late Hardcastle drop goal.
Dewsbury loanee Brad Delaney took advantage of a mistake by Fox to score at the death. Carr again hit the target but the hooter sounded before play can resume.
Dons: Carr, Sherriff, Doherty, Tali, Foggin-Johnson, Delaney, Howden,B Nicholson, Kesik, Castle, Foster, Walton, M Nicholson. Subs: Scott, Braham, Paleaaesina, Wright.