DONCASTER maintained their unbeaten home record as they boosted their Championship One title hopes with a 14-try rout of lowly Gateshead Thunder at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Despite Dons boss Tony Miller opting to rest play-maker Paul Cooke after bhis charity marathon stint, it was all too easy in the end.
But they didn’t have their own way early on as Gateshead made a lively start during which time prop Ryan McBride was held inches short following a close-range drive, and winger Shane Ackerley was held up over the line.
Centre Lee Waterman also needed to get back to nail his opposite number Josh Neilson after Gateshead had turned defence into attack following a stray pass.
It was against the run of play when Dons drew first blood - hooker Jack Ely celebrating his return to the starting line-up with a close-range unconverted try - the club’s 100th of the season - on 13 minutes.
Tony Miller’s side continued to struggle to impose their authority on the game until hooker Nathan Powley crossed for a 21st minute try. Winger Tom Hodson tagged on the easy conversion to make it 10-0.
The Dons were in again four minutes later, loose-forward Mike Emmett touching down following a bout of good handling. Hodson again added the extras to give his side a flattering 16-0 lead.
Waterman, who scored six tries when the the two teams met at the International Stadium in their first Northern Rail Cup pool game, touched down for the Dons’ fourth try after latching on to Kesik’s long pass a couple of metres from the line.
Fawcett broke a tackle about 12 metres out and raced in under the post for another converted try.
The half-back was in again a couple of minutes later after back-rower Carl Hughes celebrated his return to action after a long lay-off with a shoulder injury by breaking the line just inside his own half and running 40 metres before finding Kesik up in support and he supplied the try-scoring pass. Second-rower Mike Kelly then ran strongly to score against his former club on the stroke of half-time. Hodson’s fifth conversion in seven attempts made it 38-0 at the break.
Despite the fact that Gateshead stiffened their resolve, the one-way traffic continued after the break with both Waterman and full-back Mick Butterfield both crossing from close range.
Waterman brought up the half-century with his hat-trick on 55 minutes. Hodson’s conversion made it 54-0.
Thunder put their first points on the board on the hour with a close-range converted try by prop Brett Waller.
Waterman raced in for another converted try from deep inside his own half after intercepting a pass on 68 minutes.
Ely’s strength and determination earned him a second try and Sheffield Eagles’ prop Alex Rowe marked his loan debut with a try as Gateshead folded. Winger Stu Sanderson also got in on the act on 77 minutes.
Dons: Butterfield, Sanderson, Spur, Waterman, Hodson, Keswick, Fawcett, Castle, Ely, O’Loughlin, Kelly, Robinson, Emmett. Subs: Rowe, Spiers, Hughes, Powley.
Referee: M Kidd.