Doncaster RLFC suffer potentially costly defeat at Hunslet
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The home side claimed their first win over the Dons at home in seven games when inflicting a 28-8 defeat on Richard Horne’s side.
The Dons, who also lacked strong-running centre Jason Tali, trailed 16-8 at the break but unlike their previous two games were unable to come from behind and win.
Leaders Dewsbury Rams, meanwhile, won at Midlands Hurricanes to move seven points clear at the top having played two more games than Doncaster.
With Johnston dropping out, Horne gambled on Papua New Guinea World Cup star Watson Boas - who only arrived back in the country less than a fortnight earlier after returning home at the start of the season due to family reasons.
Although Boas, who hasn’t played any competitive rugby since November will prove as asset going forward, not surprisingly he didn’t make much impact and with half-back partner Connor Robinson also having a rare off-day the Dons lacked direction.
Their defensive work was also below par at times as was their handling.
Hunslet would have scored again but for a try-saving tackle on his opposite number by winger Tom Halliday just short of the line in the corner.
Loose-forward Brad Knowles and centre Brad Hey were both held up over the line in quick succession as the Dons sought a way back into the game.
Hunslet rode their luck and opened up a 12-0 lead following a solo try by on-loan half-back Myles Lawford who jinked his way past several defenders on a 20-metre run to the line.
The Dons found themselves 16-0 down when a Beharrell kick took a deflection off a defender and Lawford sent winger Jack Render over in the corner.
Both sides had a man sin-binned following a flare-up prior to the Dons scoring two unconverted tries to close the interval gap to just eight points and at that stage it looked ‘game on’.
Brett Ferres supplied the scoring pass for centre Brad Hey to score with winger Misi Taulapapa cutting back inside to score.
But they failed to build on their strong finish as Hunslet dominated the third quarter territorial exchanges during which Render outjumped Taulapapa to touch down from a kick to the corner.
Despite the odd attacking sortie, the Dons fell further behind following a Beharrell penalty.
Prop Jose Kenga and Halliday both went close but Hunslet, who had a couple of tries disallowed in the second half, had the final word when Lawford raced over 50m to score after picking up a loose ball.
Dons: Guzdek, Halliday, Smeaton, Hey, Taulapapa, Boas, Robinson, Cooper, Burns, Foster, Ferres, McConnell, Knowles, Subs: Kenga, Roberts, James, Whitmore.