Doncaster RLFC 26 Keighley Cougars 24: Dons one win away from play-offs

Jordie Hedges, scorer of Dons' match-winning try, is tackled
 by a Keighley player. Picture Dean Atkins

Jordie Hedges, scorer of Dons' match-winning try, is tackled by a Keighley player. Picture Dean Atkins

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Injury-hit Doncaster staged a magnificent comeback to beat Keighley Cougars 26-24 in a thrilling League One Super 8s clash at the Keepmoat Stadium.

With York City Knights losing at home to Hunslet, the Dons climbed into fourth place knowing that one win from their last three games would be enough to secure them a play-off spot.

But the club’s play-off bid looked like going down to the wire when they trailed 24-12 midway through the second half and showing few signs of being capable of mounting any sort of challenge to a Keighley side who were in a do-or-die situation coming into the game.

But they managed to conjure up two converted tries to level the scores and after both teams had failed with drop goal attempts, full-back Tom Carr won the game with a pressure penalty kick three minutes from time.

The Dons started brightly and took an early lead when stand-off Jordan Howden put Brad Nicholson over from close range for a fifth-minute try converted by Carr.

Connor Scott did well to nail hooker James Feather after he had broken clear inside the Doncaster half but quick hands from the resulting play-the-ball saw second-rower Charlie Martin cross out wide and Danny Lawton levelled the scores when adding the extras.

Cougars showed their teeth again on 19 minutes when winger Andy Gabrial squeezed in at the corner after some snappy handling in the Doncaster 20.

Lawton missed the resulting conversion but made amends three minutes later when kicking a penalty.

The Dons regained the momentum and drew level on 28 minutes when winger Louis Sheriff had the simple job of touching down in the corner from Howden’s clever kick and the ever-reliable Carr converted from touch to make it 12-12.

Keighley returned to the attack and stand-off Adam Brook almost dummied his way over.

They were not to be denied, however, and grabbed an 18-12 interval lead they probably deserved when full-back Ritchie Hawkyard scored out wide from close range for on 39 minutes and Lawton again converted.

Hawkyard went close to a second ten minutes after the restart, just failing to ground the ball from a kick before it ran dead.

When Aaron Ollett touched down from close range for another converted try the writing looked to be on the wall for the home side.

With Keighley well on top it probably would have been but for some dogged defence and the fact that the visitors missed two shots at goal during spells of sustained pressure.

Prop Mark Castle, virtually impossible to stop so close to the line in full flight, threw the Dons a lifeline with a 68th minute try Carr converted to reduce the deficit to six points.

The Dons were level two minutes later when Australian scrum-half Jordie Hedges – finally playing in front of his parents for the first time in the British game - shot over from close range for a try in his first game for six weeks.

Dons: Carr, Foggin-Johnson, Jones-Bishop, Doherty, Sheriff, Howden, Hedges, Castle, Kesik, Scott, Walton, B Nicholson, Milton. Subs: Cross, Paleaaesina, Pickets-O’Donnell, M Welham.

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