Doncaster RLFC 30 Rochdale Hornets 22: Dons secure first win of League One season

Doncaster RLFC secured a hard fought 30-22 victory over Rochdale Hornets to get off the mark in Betfred League One.

Sunday, 16th May 2021, 4:50 pm
Updated Sunday, 16th May 2021, 4:56 pm
Brandon Douglas scores for Doncaster. Photo: Rob Terrace

Oliver Greensmith, signed on loan from Wakefield Trinity, scored twice on his Dons debut and Matty Beharrell produced an impressive kicking display.

Richard Horne’s men defended superbly to restrict Rochdale to four first half points and managed to keep the visitors at arm’s length after the break to secure a welcome victory following last weekend’s opening round defeat at Keighley.

Doncaster enjoyed the better of the opening quarter as they established a 12-0 lead and forced the Hornets’ attacking unit into errors.

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Jason Tali makes ground. Photo: Rob Terrace

Brandon Douglas powered his way over under the posts after five minutes before some incisive passing five minutes later allowed Jason Tali to cross and hand Beharrell his second easy conversion.

The home side lost the considerable presence of prop Ryan Boyle to injury and Rochdale grew more into the contest as the half wore on.

But they were twice held up on the line by a determined Dons defensive effort and were caught out at the other end when Greensmith went over and Beharrell again added the extras.

The Hornets responded instantly and the ball was moved wide for Shaun Ainscough to reduce the deficit to 18-4 at the break, Sam Freeman pulling his conversion attempt wide.

Rochdale started the second period on the front foot but they were again repelled by some excellent Dons defending before a really smart 40/20 kick from Beharrell led to Sam Smeaton going over in the corner. Beharrell’s tricky conversion extended the home side’s lead to 24-4.

Zac Baker’s close range try after 54 minutes, converted by Freeman, gave the visitors hope of getting back into the game.

Those hopes grew even stronger when Luke Fowden reached for the line a few minutes later and Freeman’s conversion made it 24-16.

Doncaster could breathe a little easier when Greensmith got on the end of cross-field kick from Beharrell to score his second on the hour mark and Beharrell’s conversion extended the lead to 14 points.

Rochdale were not done yet though as a good break down the left ended with Jack Higginson diving over and Freeman converted but the away side were unable to make any further inroads.

Dons: Taulapapa, Greensmith, Smeaton, Tali, Doherty, Boas, Beharrell, Boyle, Whitmore, Douglas, Johnson, Ollett-Hobson, Wilkinson. Interchange: Johnston, Mudoti, Peltier, York.

Rochdale: Sheridan, Ainscough, Calland, Higginson, Freeman, Fairclough, Forshaw, Bennion, Ogden, Hesketh, Jordan-Roberts, Syme, Baker. Interchange: Penkywicz, Taira, Whalley, Fowden.