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.
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.
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.