Doncaster RLFC 30 Whitehaven 22: Dons’ best display of season earns first Super 8s win

Kieran Cross scored one of two late tries which clinched victory for the Dons. Photo: Andrew Roe
Kieran Cross scored one of two late tries which clinched victory for the Dons. Photo: Andrew Roe

Doncaster RLFC produced their best display of the season to beat high-flying Whitehaven 30-22 in a magnificent League One Super 8s clash at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Two late tries by half-back Kieran Cross and second-rower Charlie Martin saw them come from behind to claim their first win after successive defeats.

The Dons off to a dream start, skipper Kyle Kesik running a good line from 15 metres out after some slick handling. Scrum-half Jack Miller added the extras to make it 6-0.

Playing an eye-catching brand of expansive rugby coach Richard Horne is keen to play, the Dons continued to make the running and Miller extended their lead with an eighth-minute penalty.

The Cumbrians opened their account when centre Jessie Joe Parker – a regular thorn in Doncaster’s side over the years – did well to squeeze in at the cornerg.

Feka Paleaaesina, who had posed the Whitehaven defence problems since the start along with fellow prop Mark Castle, forced his way over from close range on 12 minutes. Miller added the extras to make it 14-4.

If the home side had dominated the first quarter it was the Cumbrians who had the better of the second and the Dons did well to restrict them to one try.

It came on 22 minutes when the slick-moving visitors cut the deficit to just four points with a converted try by second-rower Connor Holiday.

Little had been seen of the Doncaster attack in this quarter until they threatened down the left on 32 minutes – a promising move breaking down as a result of a wayward pass to winger Sam Doherty.

The Dons increased their lead on 46 minutes when French full-back Hakim Miloudi, who had shown up well in the first half on his home debut, put Doherty over in the corner. Miller added the touchline conversion to make it 20-10.

The Cumbrians hit back with a close-range converted try by Tom Holland.

The Dons looked to be in again when Cross broke clear and found Miller in support in a move which ended with Doherty being bundled into touch just short of the line.

Whitehaven got their noses in front (22-20) when Parker intercepted a pass as the Dons moved the ball at pace across the field in their own half and Paul Crook again added the extras.

But with just five minutes left Jordie Hedges gave Cross the chance to dummy his way over from close range near enough for Miller to convert, following some good support play. Martin settled a thrilling encounter when crossing from close range three minutes later.

Dons: Miloudi, Sheriff, Rawsthorne, Tali, Doherty, Cross, Miller; Paleaaesina, Kesik, Castle, Martin, Muranka,Green. Subs: Wright, Braham, Thackray, Hedges.