London Skolars 22 Doncaster RLFC 6: Richard Horne under pressure as Dons get capital punishment
Doncaster RLFC slumped to a third successive Betfred League One defeat in the capital.
Second-placed London Skolars ended the day clear at the top of the table after claiming a 22-6 victory over the Dons at the New River Stadium.
The Dons have been struggling to get their act together on a regular basis in the league this season after losing out in the 2018 play-offs, and had focused on the game in training for the last three weeks despite playing in two cup competitions during that time.
But they rarely looked like bucking the trend once surprise-packet Skolars, who must now be considered genuine automatic promotion contenders, had extended their 10-6 interval lead.
The result is likely to put more pressure on Dons boss Richard Horne who has found himself under fire from a section of supporters on social media in recent weeks.
The former Hull FC star had hoped his charges would build on a spirited performance in defeat against holders Catalans Dragons a week earlier in their Coral Challenge Cup tie at the Stade Gilbert Brutas against a side they had beaten 42-18 on the same ground last May.
Skolars were quick out of the blocks on a pitch surrounded by an athletics track with winger Lliess Macani turning defence into attack when latching onto a loose ball and running almost the length of the field to score a fifth-minute converted try.
The Dons drew level at the end of the first quarter when second-rower Brad England - who dominated the end of season awards night last September - celebrated his first game of the campaign when forcing his way over near enough for half-back Matty Beharrell to add the extras to make it 6-6.
The game continued to be tight prior to London hooker Neil Thorman kicking his side into an 8-6 lead with a 24th minute penalty.
Thorman also hit the target with a 36th minute penalty to extend London’s lead to four points after Doncaster’s Jordie Hedges had been held up over the line just before the half-hour mark.
Skolars scored the vital first try on the resumption - centre Jacob Ogden racing through a gap to score and half-back James Barran added the extras from under the posts.
Trailing 16-6 the Dons needed at least two converted tries to claim the spoils in the final quarter – something they never looked like doing.
A third London try on 71 minutes put the game beyond their reach – second-rower Ronnie Palumbo latching on to a ball which had come off the arm of centre Jason Tali to touch down near enough for Thorman to add the extras.
The result left the Dons seven points adrift of top spot as they approach the midway point of the campaign and facing a battle to make the play-offs unless they can start to turn things around.
Dons: Boas, Doherty, Bower, Tali, Chrimes, Beharrell, Hedges, Boyle, Kesik, Spiers, England, Foster, Nzoungou. Subs: Brown, Douglas, Yere, Ogden.