Bradford Bulls showed just why they are odds-on favourites to lift the League One title when knocking Doncaster RLFC off top spot with a 32-6 win at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Despite being below their best on the day in front of a near 3,000 crowd, the Dons were still in the game at the end of a first half which was a tremendous advert for League One rugby – though they were perhaps fortunate to be only 14-6 down.
But the rampaging Bulls dominated the third quarter as they put the result beyond doubt as the Dons earlier defensive efforts took its toll.
Producing their best display of the season, Bulls dominated the opening exchanges and went close on both flanks prior to deservedly taking the lead in the seventh minute when winger Ethan Ryan got on the end of a kick over the Doncaster defence.
But for a wayward pass by second-rower James Laithwaite five metres out Bulls would have been in again a couple of minutes later.
It took the Dons until the 12th minute to mount their first raid. Centre Liam Welham broke the line down the right and ran on before finding half-back Jack Miller in support but the move broke down due to an overly ambitious long pass meant for winger Aaron Jones-Bishop.
The Dons stayed on the offensive without being as structured as in previous games and prop Russ Spiers (twice) and hooker Kieran Cross were both held up over the line.
Bulls increased their lead on 18 minutes when Joseph Keyes kicked a second goal after the Dons had conceded a penalty.
The Dons opened their account on 27 minutes when Jones-Bishop got on the end of an astute grubber kick by full-back Liam Harris. Miller’s touchline conversion cut Bradford’s lead to just two points.
There was a massive let-off for the Dons on 32 minutes when Bulls split them open only for George Flanagan to take too long to ground the ball over the line and Jones-Bishop bundled him over the dead-ball line.
It only proved a stay of execution, however, with loose-forward Elliott Minchella crossing for a second converted try from close range on 35 minutes following more impressive play.
Bulls bombed another try within 90 seconds of the restart – full-back Brandon Pickersgill losing the ball in the act of scoring after beating his opposite number.
But Minchella made no such mistake a couple of minutes later when grabbing a second close-range converted try.
They were in again a couple of minutes later, Michael Wood dummying his way over with the Doncaster defence nowhere to be seen. Keyes again added the extras to leave the Dons trailing 26-6.
Bradford’s strong-running forwards continued to trouble the Dons with Braithwaite setting up an easy converted try by Flanagan just short of the hour.
Fortunately for the Dons the pace of the game in the first hour also looked to have affected Bradford in the final quarter and they lost their earlier sparkle.
Dons: Harris, Doherty, Welham, Tali, Jones-Bishop, Miller, Howden; Boyle, Cross, Spiers, Martin, Downs, Wilkinson. Subs; Hedges, Scott, Mariano, Litten.