RUGBY LEAGUE: Sweet revenge as Dons beat leaders

Lee Waterman of Doncaster goes over in the corner to open his sides account for the day, and his 26th try of the season.
Lee Waterman of Doncaster goes over in the corner to open his sides account for the day, and his 26th try of the season.
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DONCASTER kept their Championship One title hopes alive with a 28-24 win over leaders Barrow in a magnificent top-of-the-table clash at the Keepmoat Stadium.

The Dons were never behind and had they had a more reliable kicker - they only converted two of their six tries - they would have won with more to spare and not had to endure a nail-biting finish during which the result could have gone either way.

Anything other than a Doncaster win would have been an injustice, however, given the quality of their performance against a very good Barrow side, beaten only once in the league this season.

The Dons drew first blood on six minutes, centre Lee Waterman - who had gone close earlier - plucked Craig Fawcett’s cross field kick out of the air five metres out and forced his way over in the corner for his 26th try of the season.

With Tom Hodson likely to be ruled out for the season, Waterman took over the kicking duties - pushing his touchline conversion wide of the far post.

With half-backs Craig Fawcett and Paul Cooke varying their tactics well behind a pack which was winning the forward battle, the Dons continued to make the running and it came as no surprise when they increased their lead on 15 minutes.

Prop Mark Castle, who had previously made several strong carries, forced his way over from close range. Waterman kicked the easy conversion to give his side a 10-0 lead.

Barrow had looked anything like title favourites in the first quarter.

Faced with some keen spotting, they had made a number of handling errors and had struggled to hit their stride in attack.

Injured player-coach Darren Holt will have known that his charges needed to score next and they did just that, winger James Nixon going over in the corner to make it 10-4.

The visitors drew level on the half-hour after scrum-half Liam Campbell got the better of Dean Colton to score near enough for centre Ryan Shaw to convert after the winger had failed to deal with a kick by half-back Scott Kaighan.

The Dons suffered another blow three minutes later when Fran Welsh was stretchered off with what looked to be a serious leg injury.

The Dons went close to regaining the lead on the resumption of play, with loose-forward Mike Emmett being held just short by three defenders.

But he wasn’t to be denied and he raced over from close range, for another converted try, following a superb off-load out of the tackle by Fawcett on 36 minutes.

Shaw reduced the interval deficit to just four points with a penalty with the last action of the half.

The Dons started the second half in determined fashion and Waterman forced his way over in the corner for an unconverted try to make it 20-10.

Barrow hit back on 48 minutes with Shaw, who weaved in out at pace down the right, getting the better of winger Stu Sanderson and full-back Mick Butterfield. His touchline conversion left his side just two points adrift.

Nathan Powley and Cooke handled in the move which saw second-rower Mike Kelly race in from close range on 56 minutes.

There was a let-off for the Dons when Campbell lost the ball on the line.

Fawcett then showed pace and determination on a diagonal 25 metre run to the line after backing up a clean break by Russ Spiers.

Cooke took over the kicking duties only to hit the far post leaving the score 28-18.

Barrow hit back with a 67th minute converted try by winger Mike Backhouse, who took advantage of a kindly bounce from a kick.

Alex Rowe (Dons) and Andy Bracek (Barrow) were sin-binned on 70 minutes.Both sides had touchdowns disallowed in a thrilling finish.

Dons: Butterfield, Colton, Spurr, Waterman, Sanderson, Cooke, Fawcett, Castle, Kesik, Spiers, Robinson, Kelly, Emmett. Subs: Welsh, Rowe, Hughes, Powley.