Doncaster RLFC 18 Workington Town 30: Promotion dream ended for disappointing Dons

Brad England scored a try for the Dons in their play-off semi-final defeat to Workington
Brad England scored a try for the Dons in their play-off semi-final defeat to Workington

The Dons have been condemned to another season of League One rugby after slumping to a disappointing defeat in the play-off semi-final with Workington Town.

As good as Workington were on the day, the Dons were but a pale imitation of the side which had won their last ten matches and paid the price as Town deservedly won through to face Bradford Bulls in next Sunday’s final at Odsal.

Workington went into the clash as the slight underdogs but quickly threw down the gauntlet to Richard Horne’s side – twice going close to a try inside the opening four minutes.

And it was against the run of play when the Dons took the lead on eight minutes. Winger Sam Doherty palmed the ball back from a kick to stand-off Liam Harris who raced in from ten metres.

Beharrell added the extras and also tagged on close-range penalty on 14 minutes to make it 8-0.

But Workington's strong-running forwards continued to pose problems and they opened their account at the start of the second quarter when second-rower Gordon Maudling touched down in the corner. Carl Forber’s touchline conversion cut the deficit to just two points.

A handling mistake by winger Richard Owen close to his own line proved costly.

Centre Ben Morris was held up over the line from the resulting scrum heel but there was no stopping veteran prop Oliver Wilkes who crashed over from close range under the posts for another converted try.

Forber secured Town a 16-8 interval lead with a brace of penalties either side of Doncaster prop Ross Osborne being held inches short.

Town went close to a third try within three minutes of the restart when Andrew Dawson was held up over the line.

Second-rower Brad England threw the Dons a lifeline when managed to force his way over from close range after latching on to an inside ball by Jason Tali in the corner. Beharrell added the extras to leave just two points separating the two sides.

Town continued to look dangerous whenever they breached the Doncaster 20 and Dickinson managed to get the ball down for a converted 54th minute try despite the attention of several defenders.

Town effectively killed off any comeback hopes the Dons might have entertained when they failed to deal with a kick which bounced kindly for winger Joseph Hambley. Forber’s touchline conversion left the Dons 14 points adrift with just over 15 minutes left.

Russ Spiers was held up over the line as the Dons sought a quick response.

Tali latched on to a loose ball about 40m out and held off the cover to score a 69th minute try – but Beharrell’s conversion hit the post leaving the Dons needing two converted tries in the last ten minutes to win.

Tali was held inches short on 71 minutes as the Dons started playing with an urgency they had lacked for long periods of the game, but the only addition to the scoring was a late Forber penalty.

Dons: Sanderson, Doherty, Tali, Jones-Bishop, Owen, Harris, Beharrell; Spiers, Kesik, Scott, England, Mariano, Muranka. Subs: Cross, Osborne, Martin, Boyle.