Doncaster RLFC knocked out of Challenge Cup by Widnes Vikings

Doncaster RLFC bowed off the Betfred Challenge Cup trail as seven-times winners Widnes Vikings plundered the spoils in their all-Championship third round tie with a 50-16 victory at the DCBL Stadium.
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Despite lacking a number of the side which had run Sheffield Eagles close in their 1895 Cup game due to illness, injury and suspension, the Dons looked the better side early on and took a third-minute 6-0 lead when full-back Josh Guzdek sent loose-forward Joe Lovodua over from close range.

They created other chances in the first quarter but their efforts to turn further pressure into first half points wasn’t helped by the fact that they regularly conceded penalties from incorrect play-the-balls when in possession near the Widnes line.

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Widnes recovered from a shaky start to post a flattering 20-6 interval lead which served to lay the foundations for their eventual win.

Reece Lyne scores the Dons' second try. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX.comReece Lyne scores the Dons' second try. Picture: Howard Roe/
Reece Lyne scores the Dons' second try. Picture: Howard Roe/

The Vikings gradually started to find some cohesion and speedy full-back Kieran Dixon managed to touch down from close range on 13 minutes for an unconverted try.

With hooker Greg Burns and prop Sauia Matagi showing up well, the Dons enjoyed another spell on attack but but fell behind on 20 minutes when Roby escaped the clutches of skipper Sam Smeaton and raced in from 15 metres out for a try converted by Dixon which made it 10-6.

Craig Hall just failed to win the race to a grubber-kick over the line by Guzdek, who joined the line to good affect on several occasions before the break.

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Winger Misi Taulapapa picked up a serious arm injury when being tackled into touch just short of the line from a cut-out pass when the Dons threatened again.

The Vikings continued to take advantage of Doncaster infringements, winger Ryan Ince crossing out wide following some neat handling. Former Super League star Dixon added the touchline conversion to secure his side a 16-6 lead.

They struck again on the stroke of half-time when their determination to keep the ball alive in the right-hand corner, when the attack look to have been halted, saw centre Matt Fleming get a touch to the loose ball from an inside pass.

Widnes continued where they had left off at the start of the second half with Ince racing in from a lofted pass after just three minutes.

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Former Super League centre Reece Lyne, who had also shown up well in the first half at times, showed his class when holding off several defenders to score an unconverted 48th minute try to close the gap to 24-10.

It was to prove Lyne’s last impact on the game before being helped off with an ankle injury.

No sooner had the Dons been reduced to 12 men – Lovodau having been sin-binned – than Flemming raced in for his second try wide out on 58 minutes.

The Dons hit back at the start of the final quarter with winger Tom Halliday touching down from a clever grubber-kick by Robinson which the half-back converted to make it 28-16.

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Watson Boas, who later claimed he had made contact with the ball, was adjudged to have failed to touch down from another grubber-kick by Robinson.

Widnes, whose lead could have been cut to just six points had the try been given, rode their luck and forward Rhodri Lloyd touched down from a similar move less than a minute later. Dixon added the extras as he did to Sam Wilde’s’ try shortly after, to earn his side a 38-16 lead which put the result beyond doubt.

Not the result that the Dons had been looking for, but they looked a better side at times than the score would suggest and supporters shouldn’t read too much into the size of the defeat ahead of the start of next month’s Championship campaign.

Dons: Guzdek, Taulapapa, Lyne, Craig Hall, Halliday, Boas, Robinson, Foster, Burns, Matagi, Smeaton, Lovodua. Subs: Hepi, Hayes, Mafi, Thompson. 18th man: Elliot Hall.