Doncaster 39 Halifax 18: Magnificent Dons up to third

The Dons celebrate a Mike Emmett try against Halifax
The Dons celebrate a Mike Emmett try against Halifax
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Doncaster avenged their biggest Championship defeat of the season when beating top-four rivals Halifax in the return at the Keepmoat Stadium.

They scored three late tries to claim a superb 39-18 victory after Halifax had forced their way back into contention after trailing 23-6 early in the second half.

It was a magnificent display by the Dons, beaten 48-6 at The Shay in March, with outstanding performances throughout the side.

The Dons got off to a dream start with stand-in hooker Mike Emmett touching down for a third-minute try, converted by Stu Sanderson, after Halifax had failed to clear the danger from a kick close to their line.

Halifax came under further pressure before drawing level on seven minutes.

Player-coach Paul Cooke forced his way over from close range to edge his side into a 10-6 lead which Sanderson augmented with a difficult conversion.

There was a let-off for Halifax when Richard Wilkinson, who made a welcome return after a cartligage operation, threw out a wayward pass with the visitors looking to be stretched on their left flank 20 metres out.

Both sides were pulled up for forward passes with a try on the cards.

Cooke extended Doncaster’s lead with a 39th minute drop goal.

The home side struck again before the interval. Centre Liam Cunningham broke strongly down the left before kicking intelligently inside for full-back Dave Scott to gather and present Sanderson with an easy conversion.

Scott had deserved his try for not only had he defended but he had also run the ball out strongly on several occasions.

It was all Halifax in the opening minutes of the second half and the Dons had to dig deep to deny them a confidence-boosting score.

It was against the run of play when Cooke squeezed in at the corner during the Dons first spell of pressure after the break to make it 23-6 and leave Halifax needing to score at least three converted tries to win.

Luke Adamson threw his side a lifeline with a converted try on 58 minutes after Shaun Leaf had been harshly penalised.

Playing with renewed vigour, Halifax cut the deficit to just five points with another converted try on 67 minutes.

The Dons finally lifted the siege with a strong run by Cunningham laying the foundations for Scott’s second try on 71 minutes to make it 27-18.

Snitch added a quickly-taken brace in the closing stages.

Dons: Scott, Hodson, Leaf, Cunningham, Sanderson, Cooke, Wilkinson, Carbutt, Spaven, Robinson, Snitch, Colbon, Emmett. Subs: Castle, Waterman, Spiers, Dunn.

Referee: J Cobb.