Gateshead Thunder 22 Doncaster 40
Backs Mike Butterfield and Tom Hodson both scored twice as Doncaster completed a league and cup double on Tyneside over bottom club Gateshead Thunder.
The Dons ran in seven tries with Hodson kicking six conversions to claim an 18-point victory, six fewer than on their last visit to the Thunderdome.
Tony Miller’s side were well on top in the first half where they scored 30 points, but Gateshead rallied to edge the second half.
A fourth win from the opening five games has installed Doncaster as one of the early season pacemakers in Co-Op Championship One.
There is still work to do, however, as Gateshead exploited some defensive frailties, particularly on the Dons left edge.
But Doncaster were good value for their win as they became the first side in the division to score 200 points.
Butterfield and right centre Chris Spurr were particularly impressive while hooker Kyle Kesick’s timely try ended Gateshead’s comeback.
The Dons had to survive two early Thunder sets but as soon as they had ball in hand they scored in their first set of six. Spurr made good ground down the right to fire an inside pass that saw Craig Fawcett gallop to the line in the fourth minute.
Gateshead, without a win against professional opposition for over two years, responded with Ash Thackeray stretching out an arm to touchdown despite the attention of three defenders.
Spurr, 25 metres out, then sidestepped a defender with ease to score between the posts and then Lee Waterman’s pass saw Hodson sprint almost half the length of the pitch to touchdown.
Gateshead were struggling to get any ball and two Butterfield tries in three minutes further stretched the Dons lead.
After Nathan Powley had been held up in goal Butterfield dummied his way over the whitewash and then hit a short pass with pace to hit the line.
Gateshead’s completion rate was good but they found territory hard to come by, though they did pull a try back on the hooter. Mike Mitchell’s back door pass saw Thackeray crash over in a two man tackle and the Dons were hit by two more tries inside the opening ten minutes of the second half.
First Thackeray completed his hat-trick, again in the tackle, and then Paul Stamp left Butterfield for dead as the home side finally built up a head of steam.
Kesick’s try ended the fightback as he wriggled out of a tackle to race to the line and then Hodson won the race to a high kick from a Doncaster scrum on half way.
Conor Condron broke free all too easily near the Dons 20 metre line for Gateshead’s fifth of the afternoon but by then Miller’s men were home.
A scrappy, low key game had been won convincingly without the need to hit top gear but there is room for improvement before this weekend’s game at Rochdale.
Doncaster: Butterfield, Colton, Spurr, Waterman, Hodson, Cooke, Fawcett, Castle, Kesick, O’Loughlin, Kelly, Lawton, Edwards. Subs (all used): Powley, Welsh, Spiers, Hyde.
Scorers - Gateshead tries: Thackeray (8, 40, 43), Stamp (48), Condron (68); goals Goals: Beasley (1).
Doncaster tries: Fawcett (4), Spurr (17), Hodson (21, 62), Butterfield (33, 36), Keswick (56); goals: Hodson (6).
Referee: Ronnie Laughton