Doncaster RLFC 26 Oldham Roughyeds 22: Dons survive late scare to beat play-off rivals
Doncaster RLFC made a winning return to the Keepmoat Stadium when beating third-placed Oldham 26-22 in a crucial Betfred League One promotion clash.
The Dons looked to be coasting to a third successive win when scoring three second half tries without reply to open up a commanding 26-6 lead.
But Oldham found their second wind and three late tries made for a nail-biting finish for the Dons players and coaching staff.
Oldham, who had beaten the Dons 32-12 at home earlier in the season, bossed the early exchanges and a brace of Paul Crook penalties earned them a 4-0 lead after seven minutes.
The Dons found it hard going to make ground against a side boasting the best defensive record in the division in the first quarter during which they were often on the back foot.
Their only threat of note during that period came on 15 minutes when dual-registered Hull FC star Hakim Miloudi worked his magic in his first game for the club in nearly three months but his try-scoring pass to second-rower Brad England was ruled forward.
The Dons drew level on 24 minutes when winger Sam Doherty touched down in the corner.
Scrum-half Matty Beharrell celebrated his home debut when tagging on the touchline conversion to make it 6-4. The former Keighley man also hit the target with a straight penalty on the half-hour mark.
With scrum-half David Hewitt directing operations behind his strong-running pack, Oldham returned to the attack and Ben Davies was held up over the line.
Crook again hit the target with a 36th minute penalty to close the gap to two points.
But for a better bounce from Beharrell’s clever kick into space, winger Aaron Jones-Bishop would have backed himself to score in the corner.
Doncaster’s Jordie Hedges and Oldham’s free-scoring forward Danny Langtree were both sin-binned in the opening minutes of the second half.
The Dons opened up a 14-6 lead on 46 minutes when England got on the end of neat grubber kick by hooker Jez Litten over the line to touch down in the corner for a try converted by Beharell.
Oldham fell further behind on 54 minutes after Jones-Bishop capitalised on full-back Luke Hooley’s failure to deal with a kick by Litten over the line. Beharrell again added the extras.
Doherty went close to a second try on the hour after spotting a gap in the Oldham defence 25 metres out.
Oldham again asked questions of the Doncaster defence prior to centre Jack Logan latching on to a loose ball in his own 20 and racing away for a spectacular try which Beharrell again converted to make it 26-6.
Just when it was beginning to look as though the Dons would deny the visitors a try, Langtree burst through from close range for a 76th minute touchdown converted by Hooley.
The Lancashire side then scored two further tries in as many minutes, the first of which was goaled by Hewitt, to set the alarm bells ringing.
Dons: Miloudi, Doherty, Logan, Tali, Jones-Bishop, Howden, Beharrell; Scott, Kesik, Boyle, England, Mariano, Downs. Subs: Osbourne, Martin, Hedges, Litten.