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Dons back on top after second half fight back: Doncaster RLFC 28 North Wales Crusaders 20

Jason Tali was among the scorers for the Dons in the win over North Wales
Jason Tali was among the scorers for the Dons in the win over North Wales

Doncaster RLFC regained top spot in Division One on points difference after beating North Wales Crusaders 28-20 at the Keepmoat Stadium.

But they will have to play better over the full 80 minutes if they want to hold on to pole position in what is shaping up to be a very competitive division.

Not for the first time this season the Dons were second best for long periods of the first half.

But as on all the previous occasions bar the 16-14 defeat by top-four rivals York, the Dons rescued the situation with a dominant second half showing.

Crusaders impressive first half showing, which will have delighted new coach Anthony Murray and they deservedly led 8-6 at the break.

They mixed their tactics well enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges and twice going close in the first ten minutes.

Despite limited possession the Dons also carved out two good chances

But for a better pass by full-back Hakim Miloudi to winger Richard Owen the Dons would have opened their account on seven minutes.

Scrum-half Ryan Smith then produced a try-saving tackle on centre Jason Tali.

The Dons did open the scoring on 14 minutes, second-rower Brandan Wilkinson scoring out wide from close range following some neat handling. Miloudi added the extras to make it 6-0.

With the likes of prop Stanton Albert running in hard, and half-backs Smith and Steven Roper directing operations, Crusaders remained a threat and had a second try disallowed for a forward pass out wide after second-rower Jordan Case had been held on his back over the line on the other flank.

The Dons suffered a blow when stand-off Kieran Cross had to be helped off with a knee injury on 26 minutes.

The visitors deservedly drew level on 29 minutes when Smith broke clear 40 metres out and ran on before finding Case on his inside. Full-back Tommy Johnson added the extras.

They continued trouble the home side with their expansive brand of rugby and Johnson secured them an 8-6 interval lead with a 37th minute penalty.

The Dons drew first blood after the break with prop Connor Scott running hard to score near enough for Miloudi to convert on 43 minutes.

The Dons continued to take the game to the Welsh side and they opened up a 16-8 lead on 50 minutes when Tali forced his way over when running on to a long pass by Liam Harris ten metres out.

Just when it was beginning to look as though the Dons finally had Crusaders’ number, Case took advantage of some poor goal-line defence to score a 53rd minute converted try to close the deficit to just two points.

The Dons quickly regained the initiative and Owen touched down from Miloudi’s kick to the corner. The Frenchman’s conversion made it 22-14.

Second-rower Brad England put more daylight between the two sides when running strongly from ten metres give Miloudi another kickable conversion.

Crusaders had the last word with an 80th minute converted try,

Dons: Miloudi, Doherty, Bower, Tali, Owen, Cross, Harris; Boyle, Kesik, Scott, England, Wilkinson, Muranka. Subs: Spiers, Litten,Osbourne, Hedges.