Leigh 50 Doncaster RLFC 20: Cooke’s men slip down table as league leaders ease to victory

Doncaster RLFC's Paul Cooke scores a try against Dewsbury Rams at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Doncaster RLFC's Paul Cooke scores a try against Dewsbury Rams at the Keepmoat Stadium.
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Paul Cooke’s men were unable to stop Championship leaders Leigh who made it 11 wins from 11 thanks to a 50-20 win.

Doncaster reshuffled the pack following last week’s defeat at Whitehaven as Shaun Leaf, Matt Carbutt, Kyle Kesick and Mike Kelly all returned to the 13 in a bid to upset their undefeated Lancashire hosts.

However, despite a good, attacking start from the Dons, the visitors suffered a double blow when influential second rower Lee Waterman went off injured and Leigh pounced for 6-0.

The opening score came through Cameron Pitman who went over in the right corner following good work from Gregg McNally in the 11th minute. Martyn Ridyard converted.

Leigh doubled their advantage minutes later when Sam Hopkins off-loaded into Ryan Brierley and he sent the supporting Bob Beswick under the posts. Ridyard added the kick for 12-0.

Leigh almost found themselves through again but Adam Higson’s inside pass bounced forward as Doncaster looked to regroup.

The visitors reacted well as they reduced the deficit in the 20th minute when Cooke sent Liam Kent on his way and he burst down the right to crash over.

Stewart Sanderson added the extras for 12-6.

However, Doncaster found themselves back to square one as Leigh struck again when McNally and former Dons man Liam Kay combined to see the former go over. Ridyard made no mistake for an 18-6 Leigh lead.

Leigh were then on the backfoot as Doncaster crashed over in the 28th minute through returning utility back Tom Hodson, reducing Leigh’s lead to eight points.

Sanderson was unlucky not to add the extras as he saw his kick sail wide.

However, Cooke’s men were dealt another blow when the hosts spread the play well to see Higson go over.

Ridyard this time failed in his conversion attempt as the score remained 22-10.

Doncaster finished the half well, making sure they were still only eight points adrift when substitute Alex Starling was sent through by Cooke.

His pass found Dave Scott who bundled the ball over. Sanderson pulled his kick wide for a 22-14 half time score.

The hosts were quick off the mark after the break as Brierley went over from close range for a try, Ridyard converting to see a 28-14 scoreline.

They extended their scoreline through a Matthew Sarsfield try and Ridyard goal for 34-14, however, Doncaster responded through stand-off Cooke who spun away from danger to score before Sanderson added the extras for 34-20.

Leigh then rallied through Kurt Haggerty and Tommy Goulden scores as Ridyard successfully slotted over both kicks for a 46-20 lead and 10 minutes to spare.

Tom Armstrong added the final try without conversion as Doncaster slipped into fourth in the Championship table.

Leigh: McNally, Higson, Pitman, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Spencer, Beswick, Emmitt, Sarsfield, Goulden, Hopkins. Subs: Foster, Wilkes, Acton, Haggerty.

Dons: Scott, Hodson, Leaf, Waterman, Sanderson, Cooke, Wildie, Carbutt, Kesik, Robinson, Kent, Kelly, Emmett. Subs: Starling, Wilson, Spiers, Spaven.