Doncaster RLFC 18 Hunslet 20: Dons let victory slip from their grasp in home opener
Doncaster RLFC contributed to their own downfall when going down 20-18 in an ill-tempered Betfred League One derby against Hunslet at the Keepmoat Stadium.
The Dons conceded two late penalties within kicking distance in the closing stages and Hunslet half-back Reece Dean – one of seven former players in the visitors’ ranks – made them pay.
The home side had looked to be on course for a hard-earned win when leading 18-10 against a Hunslet team who were down to 11 players at one stage in the final quarter.
But not only did the Dons fail to capitalise on their numerical advantage they also conceded a try, albeit a fortunate one after the ball fell kindly for prop Adam Robinson after being knocked out of centre Ben Heaton’s grasp in a tackle.
The Dons were quick out of the blocks and prop Brandon Douglas drove over from close range for a third-minute converted try.
The Dons increased their lead on 14 minutes when a grubber-kick by stand-off Jordan Howden close to the line struck a Hunslet player and fell favourably for centre Connor Bower to pounce on over the line. Matty Beharrrell again added the extras to make it 12-0.
Hunslet continued to look lively in possession without seriously testing the Doncaster line – their cause not being helped by some sloppy handling at times.
Tempers flared at the start of the second quarter and the incident was put on report by the referee after he had spoken to players from both sides and awarded the Dons a penalty.
The Dons, who had to re-organise after losing Sam Doherty and play-maker Howden with head injuries, conceded a try late in the half. Centre Ben Heaton crossed from close range after prop Zac Braham, who proved a handful for his former teammates, had been held just short with his first touch.
The Leeds club struck again deep into stoppage time with winger Gareth Potts diving over in the corner for an unconverted try after Doncaster’s left flank had been stretched.
Defences were on top for most of the third quarter, during which the officials were again kept busy, until the Dons scored a third try on 55 minutes - Douglas powering over from a pass by hooker Kieran Cross who had switched to stand-off following Howden’s departure.
Beharrell again tagged on the extras to give the Dons an 18-10 lead.
Hunslet found themselves down to 12 men on 58 minutes forward Josh Tonks was carded.
Stand-off Danny Nicklas was sin-binned for dissent six minutes later immediately after the referee had put Hunslet on a team warning.
Douglas looked to have completed his hat trick following a strong run but he was penalised for a double movement.
Had the try stood the likelihood is that the Dons would have gone on to win the game and not have victory snatched from their grasp.
Dons: Miloudi, Doherty, Bower, Tali, Chrimes, Howden, Beharrell; Boyle, Kesik, Douglas, Fash, Dixon, Washbrook. Subs: Scott, Cross, Spiers, Hedges.