Late rally fails to save Dons in cup

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Doncaster 18 York City Knights 29

YORK City Knights put the Dons to the sword in yesterday’s Northern Rail Cup pool game at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Wednesday’s game at Gateshead seemed to have taken its toll of the Donswho didn’t start to get their act together until it was too late.

A mistake by winger Dean Colton, who was wrong-footed by a kick through by second-rower Ed Smith gifted York centre James Ford a ninth-minute try, converted by player-coach Chris Thorman.

York piled on the pressure and doubled their lead on 12 minutes when hooker Jack Lee beat full-back Mick Butterfield to Thorman’s clever grubber kick over the line. Thorman again tagged on the conversion to make it 12-0.

The Championship side looked faster and more creative and and the home side found it difficult to get out of their own half.

It took the Dons 20 minutes to mount their first raid of note but instead of cutting the deficit as they should have done with the York defence looking stretched, they fell further behind as Ford pulled off an interception and ran 90 metres for a try in the corner. Thorman tagged on the touchline conversion to make it 18-0.

Colton went close to making amends for his earlier mistake with a storming run to within five metres of the line. Big-name signing Paul Cooke was held just short during the same spell of pressure.

The Dons finally opened their account on 33 minutes when Cooke, who also landed the touchline conversion, put centre Liam Cunningham over from close range on his home debut.

Their joy was short-lived, however, and York second-rower Rhys Clarke raced over for a 38th minute try.

Thorman tagged on the conversion and capped an impressive first-half display by landing a drop goal to make it 25-6.

Dons’ loose-forward Carl Hughes knocked on over the line on 44 minutes after York had failed to deal with a kick in the corner. York made them pay when winger Wayne Price crossed from close range on 54 minutes.

Cunningham, who can feel pleased with his first appearance at the Keepmoat, broke clear and raced 50 metres for a second try on 64 minutes. Cooke again added the extras.

Full-back Mick Butterfield raced over for a third converted try on 69 minutes to make it 29-18 but that was as close as it got.

Dons: Butterfield, Colton, Cunningham, Waterman, Sanderson, Cooke, Fawcett, Bibb, Emmett, Castle, Robinson, Lawton, Hughes Subs: Kesik, Welsh, Burnett, Crowther.