Oldham Roughyeds 32 Doncaster RLFC 12: Dons lose ground in League One promotion race

Doncaster RLFC continue to lose ground in the Betfred League One promotion race after going down 32-12 against top-four rivals Oldham on their 4G Vestacare Stadium pitch.

Sunday, 3rd June 2018, 8:15 pm
Jason Tali scored a late consolation try for Doncaster in the defeat at Oldham. Photo: Rob Terrace

Having lost three more games than leaders Bradford Bulls it is looking increasingly likely that the Dons’ best chance of a return to the Championship will now be via the play-offs rather than top spot.

But not even a top-five spot is guaranteed unless results in key four-pointers start to improve.

Third-placed Oldham, now unbeaten in their last six league games, looked all set to take an early lead but centre Jack Holmes dropped the ball when diving for the line.

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The Dons had a spell on the attack before finding themselves under pressure from a kick and but for stand-off Jordan Howden palming the ball away would have found themselves 4-0 down with the kick to come.

Oldham’s pressure finally paid off just before the end of the first quarter when second-rower Danny Langtree – their most consistent player this season – went over from close range to claim his seventh try of the season.

Half-back Paul Crook added the extras and also booted over a 40m penalty several minutes later to make it 8-0.

Little had been seen of Doncaster in attack since the opening exchanges – their cause not helped by handling errors - until Liam Harris made a break on the last tackle.

Young Wakefield Trinity full-back Luke Hooley celebrated signing a recent season-long loan deal with Oldham when making a try for himself which Crook again converted to leave the Dons trailing 14-0 just short of the half-hour mark.

Crook was also on target with a 39th minute penalty to earn his side a 16-0 interval lead.

The second half got off to the worst possible start for the Dons with Luke Nelmes claiming a third Oldham try within two minutes of the restart.

The Dons had to score the next try to entertain any sort of hope of making a game of it but they continued to find the Oldham defence – second only to leaders Bradford – difficult to break down.

But good work by hooker Jez Litten saw loose-forward Brandan Wilkinson cross near enough for Howden to add the extras to make it 20-6 on 54 minutes.

Doncaster’s hopes of making further inroads into Oldham’s lead suffered a blow at the start of the final period when full-back Richard Owen was sin-binned for dissent.

Oldham restored their 20-point advantage four minutes later - winger Lee Kershaw turning defence into attack when latching on to Howden’s kick to wing Sam Doherty on his own line and racing away for a third converted try.

When prop Phil Joy touched down for a 75th minute converted try there were fears that the Dons could drop out of the top-four on points difference.

But winger Jack Sanderson, who also added the conversion, took advantage of a favourable bounce from a kick to put leading try-scorer Jason Tali over for a 79th minute try.

Dons: Owen, Doherty, Bower, Tali, Sanderson, Howden, Harris; Scott, Kesik, Boyle, Martin, Downs, Wilkinson. Subs: Braham, Bienek, Muranka, Litten.