Doncaster failed to buck the trend against promotion-chasing London Broncos as the visitors posted their third Championship win in eight days at Castle Park to boost their hopes of an immediate return to Super League.
But they weren’t as good, or Doncaster as bad, as the scoreline would suggest in what at times was a rather scrappy encounter.
Playing only their second ever game at the home of Doncaster Knights, the Dons could have run the visitors much closer had they converted a couple of gilt-edged chances after the break and not gifted their opponents a couple of scores at the other end.
Although the increasing likelihood is that the Dons will now be plying their trade in League One next season, the players spirit showed that they haven’t yet conceded defeat in the battle to stay up.
The Dons made a bright start with new half-back pairing Richard Wilkinson and Paul Mennell helping to give give them much-needed direction and the likes of props Matt Groat and Mitch Clark running hard.
It was against the run of play when Broncos broke the deadlock on ten minutes with a close-range unconverted try by centre Ben Helliwell.
The Dons deservedly drew level on 17 minutes when centre Liam Welham got on the end of a clever grubber-kick by Mennell to claim an unconverted try.
Broncos regained the lead, after a spell in which defences had been on top, when young half-back prospect Oscar Thomas put loose-forward Elliot Minichella over for a 37th minute try. Centre Wes Naiqama added the extras to make it 10-4 at the break.
The Dons had to had to dig deep defensively at the start of the second half but would almost certainly have closed the gap to two points, with the conversion to come, on 50 minutes had Wilkinson held on to Josh Bowden’s neat one-handed off-load out of the tackle ten metres out.
Naiqama’s penalty following a high tackle made it 12-4.
The Dons were still in the game but bombed another scoring chance on 58 minutes, Matt Foster losing the ball in the tackle just short of the line from Wilkinson’s pass.
Broncos rode their luck and opened up an 18-4 lead on the hour with a converted try by Hellewell.
Winger Rhys Williams put the result beyond doubt when racing over 90 metres to score after capitalising on to a dropped pass by Tom Hodson close the line.
They gifted the Londoner’s another converted try on 67 minutes, Hellewell completing his hat-trick.
n Dons: Naughton; Fox, Welham, Cowling, Hodson; Mennell, Wilkinson; Groat, Kesik, Clark, Foster, Snitch, Emmett. Subs: Spiers, Leaf, Wilson, Bowden.
n London Broncos: Morris; Williams, Hellewell, Naiqama, Macini; Thomas, Gilmore; Lovegrove, Henderson, Thackray, Harrison, Garside, Minichella. Subs: Nasso, Dollapi, Wallace, Walker.
n Referee: D Merrick.