Doncaster RLFC put to the sword as Halifax curse continues

Dons Luke Briscoe scores their second try in defeat at Halifax.Dons Luke Briscoe scores their second try in defeat at Halifax.
Dons Luke Briscoe scores their second try in defeat at Halifax.
Doncaster RLFC hadn’t beaten Halifax Panthers at The Shay on their last nine visits but current form going into the game suggested they had a good chance of putting the record straight.

But that never looked like being the case in an error-ridden first half during which they were decidedly second best and were fortunate to be only 12-0 down at the interval.

They were poor defensively and without scrum-half Connor Robinson (ill) they lacked organisation and direction in attack relying too much on kicks, a lot of which rarely looked like producing the spoils, when finding themselves in good field position.

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Things didn’t get much better in the second half and despite the efforts of centre Jason Tali - by far Doncaster’s best player with ball in hand - and found themselves on the wrong end of a 34-8 Betfred Championship scoreline.

The Dons recorded a clean sheet against Batley the previous week. But it only took the home side, looking to end a run of six successive league defeats, three minutes to breach their line - influential scrum-half Joe Keys exploiting a gap ten metres out.

The hosts, who it has to be said played very well on the day, continued to move the ball about well and had debutant winger Mathieu Pons being able to provide the finish to a slick move the Dons would have fallen further behind.

Clearly boosted by their early score, Halifax doubled their lead when Keys, who found himself in space 15m out, dummied his way over for a second converted try to earn his side a 12-0 lead. The Dons went close on several occasions through Tali, Loui McConnell and Pauli Pauli, but continued to cough up possession

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Centre Ned McCormack touched down under the posts after the Dons had failed to deal with a bouncing ball on their own line but fortunately for them the referee had spotted an infringement. Halifax went close to adding to their lead when Jouffret just failed to win the race to an astute grubber kick by Keys.

The Dons made the worst possible start to the second half- former Great Britain star Gareth Widdop touching down from close range for a third converted try on 43 minutes.

Full-back Josh Guzdek produced a superb catch under pressure close to his own line and also showed one two nice touches with ball in hand. Jouffret extended Halifax’s lead to 20-0 with a long-range penalty on 54 minutes.

Pauli was held just short following a typical charge a couple of minutes later.

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Craig Hall was also held just short from Brad Hey’s pass as the return of props Brad Knowles and Matagi served to give the Dons more impetus for while. A long-range try by McCormack on 63 minutes put paid to any comeback hopes the Dons may have entertained. Jouffet added the extras to make it 26-0. The Dons had further spells of pressure and winger Bureta Faraimo came close before the home side again turned defence into attack to produce a 73rd minute converted try for Kevin Larroyer.

The Dons were spared the indignity of failing to score when Faraimo touched down in the corner five minutes from time. Fellow winger Luke Briscoe crossed three minutes later as the visitors started to show what they could do in attack.

Dons: Hall, Briscoe, Hey, Tali, Faraimo, Johnston, Boas, Knowles, Lovodua, Matagi, Sutcliffe, Pauli, McConnell. Subs|: Holdstock, Guzdek, Kenga, Hepi.

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