Doncaster RLFC 23 London Skolars 22: Dons snatch victory with late drop goal
Doncaster RLFC made a winning return to the Keepmoat Stadium after two months on the road.
But they needed a late drop goal by scrum-half Matty Beharrell to claim a 23-22 victory over London Skolars which avenged a 22-6 defeat in the capital in May.
There were few signs that the game would end up so close in the first 25 minutes or so as the Dons opened up a 16-0 lead.
But a London side who knew that defeat at the Keepmoat would effectively put paid to their play-off hopes weren’t about to go down without a fight.
Their big mobile pack caused problems throughout for the home side and with former Dons half-back Richard Wilkinson pulling the strings they also proved a threat out wide.
The Dons broke the deadlock in the ninth minute when full-back Jordan Howden celebrated his return to action following a month on the sidelines with a rib injury when making the running for Beharrell’s unconverted try.
The home side were in again on 14 minutes – winger Sam Doherty forcing his way over in the corner for a converted try from Beharrell’s floated pass.
When prop Russ Spiers, back in action following a two-match ban, powered his way over from close range to make it 16-0 the Dons looked to be heading for a routine victory.
But two quickly-taken tries served to change the complexion of the game.
Skolars opened their account with a converted close-range try by Wilkinson and they were in again on the half-hour when centre Guy Armitage, who played a trial game for the Dons in late May, crossed for a converted try which cut the gap to just four points at the break.
Skolars shaded the opening stages of the second half but the Dons dug deep and increased their lead on 53 minutes when stand-off Rangi Chase, who had had a quiet game on his home debut, touched down from close range for a try which Beharrell converted to make it 22-12 following good work by hooker Watson Boas.
The PNG international was one of four players back in action after an injury lay-off and acquitted himself well in the unaccustomed role as hooker.
Skolars continued to trouble the Doncaster defence and their efforts were rewarded when they moved the ball out wide to Armitage who scrambled over in the corner for a 63rd minute try.
Thorman added the touchline conversion to cut the deficit to just four points again.
Skolars continued to take the game to the Dons and drew level five minutes from time when Armitage rounded off some snappy handling to celebrate his first game on loan from Super League side London Broncos when diving over in the corner for his hat trick try.
Thorman missed his first conversion attempt to leave the scores standing at 22-22, which would have kept Skolars’ play-off hopes alive.
Dons: Howden, Doherty, Bower, Tali, Chrimes, Chase, Kesik, Spiers, Hodgson, Foster, Hedges. Subs: Boas, Douglas, Bastas, Mariano.