Dons keep cup hopes on track with fine win

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Doncaster 32

London Skolars 4

THE Dons got off the mark in their Northern Rail Cup at the second time of asking with a comfortable Pool A win against London Skolars at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Skolars put up a stiff resistance in the first half, particularly in defence, but the Dons stamped their authority on the game in the second half.

Victory kept their hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals alive but they will still need to beat Rochdale and Dewsbury in their remaining games to be in with a chance of progressing.

Both are likely to be tougher games than yesterday’s encounter but the Dons will be in with a chance on this showing.

The Dons dominated the opening exchanges with half-backs Craig Fawcett and Scott Spaven calling the shots and big prop Jamie Bovill taking the ball in strongly. They took a deserved lead on seven minutes when centre Chris Spurr forced his way over from close range following good handling along the line. Spaven’s conversion came back off the near post.

It took the visitors 15 minutes to mount their first raid of any note but they made it count with centre Dave Arnot going over out wide from close range to level the scores at 4-4.

The Dons continued to have the better of the territorial exchanges, but their attacking play lacked a cutting edge.

Skolars defended well and almost grabbed a 27th minute lead.

The Dons regained the lead on 29 minutes - Liam Crawley crashing over from close range under the posts.

Spaven added the extras to make it 10-4.

Hooker Kyle Kesik was held just short before Spaven dummied his way into space and had the pace to hold off the cover on a ten metre run to the line.

Winger Stu Sanderson took over the kicking duties and he added the conversion to secure his side a 16-4 interval lead.

Skolars, who had the wind and rain at their backs, made a determined start to the second half, but the Dons defensive line held firm.

The visitors hopes of making inroads into the Dons lead weren’t helped when Arnot was sin-binned in the 49th minute.

It was to prove a costly lapse in discipline with the Dons putting another ten points on the scoreboard whilst he was cooling his heels.

The home side wasted little time in cashing in on their numerical advantage with Jack Ely forcing his way over in the corner for an unconverted try. Ely then bumped off a defender close to the line as he drove over from acting half-back for a second try on 55. Sanderson stretched the lead to 26-4 when adding the conversion.

Sent-off in the club’s first match at Featherstone - his red card contributing to the size of the defeat - Kesik crossed from close range on 62 minutes near enough for Sanderson to again convert.

The Dons had further chances to add to their account, but Skolars continued to battle to the end.

Dons: Butterfield, Sanderson, Spurr, Leaf, Colton, Fawcett, Spaven, Scott, Ely, Bovill, Robinson, Carbutt, Emmett. Subs: Wilson, Kesik, Crawley, Sampson.

London Skolars: Anthony, Junior, Arnot, May, Adebisi, Skee, Thorman, Williams, Honor, Hart, Thomas, D Sampon, Bolger. Substitutes: Aggrey, Murtza, Gee, Ball.

Referee: M Drizza.