Doncaster RLFC 29 Hunslet Hawks 24: Dons end Hawks’ unbeaten record to go joint top of table

Dons' Kieran Cross in action against Hunslet. Photo: Dean Atkins

Dons' Kieran Cross in action against Hunslet. Photo: Dean Atkins

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Doncaster RLFC moved joint top of League One after beating Hunslet Hawks 29-24 in a bruising encounter at the Keepmoat Stadium.

With the Dons hanging on to a one-point lead courtesy of a Tom Carr drop goal, the result was in doubt until centre Jason Tali touched down for a last-minute try to end Hunslet’s unbeaten start.

The Dons made a patchy start with inconsistent handling and Hunslet opened the scoring on ten minutes with a close range try in the corner by winger Gavin Duffy.

Danny Ansell failed to add the extras but hit the target with a simple penalty as the Dons, who were finding the powerful Hunslet pack a handful, conceded penalties on a regular basis.

Despite several strong runs by prop Mark Castle, the Dons were in need of a flash of inspiration from someone at the start of the second quarter and in-form utility man Kieran Cross provided it.

He caught the Hunslet defence flat-footed with a grubber-kick 35 metres out and regathered to send second-rower Charlie Martin racing in unopposed from 20 metres out for a try goaled by full-back Tom Carr to make it 6-6.

Cross then dummied his way over from close range on 25 minutes – a score which led to Brad England and Jake Normington being sin-binned after several scuffles broke out.

The Dons continued to call the shots and claimed a third try before the break, Cross cleverly slipping the ball out of the tackle again to send second-rower Mason Tonks, making his first appearance of the season, over near enough for Carr to convert to make it 16-6.

The Dons made a dominant start to the second half with Ryan Wright and the impressive Liam Welham both being held up over the line in quick succession, but the visitors who drew first blood,centre Mufaro Mvududu powering his way over from close range. Ansell’s conversion left just four points separating the teams.

This seemed to boost Hunslet’s confidence and powerful second-rower Normington levelled with a close range try on 55 minutes.

Hawks swooped in for a third touchdown in eight minutes to regain the lead with a converted try by George Flanagan and looked likely winners.

Doncaster hit back three minutes later, Feka Paleaaesina and Jake Thackray combining to send Wright over under the posts for a try converted by Carr who also tagged on a 65th minute penalty to make it 24-22.

Doncaster’s joy was short-lived with Ansell levelling the scores three minutes later.

The lead changed hands again on 70 minutes following Carr’s drop goal.

Dons: Carr, Doherty, Welham, Tali, Barnett, Miller, Cross; Castle, Kesik, Scott, England, Martin, Thackray. Subs: Wright, Paleaaesina, Tonks.

Hunslet: Watson, Duffy, Wilson, Mvududu, Webb, Answell, McKay; Reed, Lee, Hesketh, Normington, Walton, Flynn. Subs: Gibson, Kenga, Carbutt, Flanagan.

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