Catalans Dragons 62 Doncaster RLFC 6: Dons well beaten by Challenge Cup holders
Doncaster RLFC failed to upset the odds in their Coral Challenge Cup sixth round tie against holders Catalans Dragons at the Stade Gilbert Brutus.
Fielding virtually a full-strength side the in-form Super League outfit ran in 12 tries in a 62-6 victory over their League One visitors.
Richard Horne’s men made a game of it in the first half, however, and only trailed 18-6 at the break.
But the French side, who entertain realistic hopes of successfully defending the trophy, ran away with the game in the second half as the Dons earlier efforts began to take its toll.
The Dons made a promising start to their first-ever game against the big-spending French side but fell behind after nine minutes when centre Brayden Williame scored the first of his four tries after getting on the end of a kick by half-back Sam Tomkins which had taken a deflection.
Former Wigan star Tomkins added the extras to give his side a 6-0 lead.
Despite the early setback the Dons, for whom loose-forward Brandan Wilkinson started his first game in 11 months, continued to give a good account of themselves.
Connor Bower - back in his favoured centre position after playing several games in the second-row where the Dons have been hit by injuries all season - touched down following a kick by Jordan Howden.
Howden’s half-back partner Matty Beharell added the extras to level the scores at 6-6.
Although Catalans posed the bigger threat with ball in hand, they came up against spirited resistance and didn’t regain the lead until the half hour mark when Matt Whitley touched down from a kick by half-back Lucas Albert.
The only side to have beaten the top two in Super League this season, Catalans struck again just before the break when loose-forward Jason Baitieri crossed from acting half-back.
Classy full-back/stand-off Tony Gigot again added the extras to give Catalans, who will have expected to have been further ahead at that stage against the only League One side still in the competition, a 12-point interval lead.
It was always going to be a big ask for the Dons to continue to keep in touch with the holders in the second half and so it proved as the home side scored nine tries without reply.
It didn’t help their cause when conceding a try – Whitley bagging his second - within five minutes of the restart.
PNG international David Mead celebrated his return from injury with a quickly-taken brace.
Further tries came at regular intervals as Catalans capitalised on their extra pace and power to post their highest score of the season ahead of their historic league clash against Wigan at the Nou Camp this weekend.
The Dons, who rarely looked like adding to their tally in the second half, should find it a more level playing field at the New River Stadium.
Dons: Buchanan, Doherty, Bower, Tali, Halliday, Howden, Beharrell; Boyle, Kesik, Spiers, Hedges, Foster, Wilkinson. Subs: Douglas, Scott, Ogden, Chrimes.