Oldham Roughyeds 40 Doncaster RLFC 14: Top four hopes take another hit in heavy defeat
Doncaster RLFC’s hopes of a top-four finish in League One are hanging by a thread following their 40-14 defeat at second-placed Oldham.
Oldham avenged a 31-0 league defeat at the Keepmoat Stadium earlier in the season and a home defeat in the 1895 Cup in a surprisingly one-sided game.
Playing with the blustery wind at their backs, Oldham, who had won six of their seven games since losing at the Keepmoat, made the early running.
It was against the run of play when the Dons opened the scoring with a disputed try by winger Sam Doherty after his opposite number fumbled stand-off Jordan Howden’s kick to the corner.
Jordie Hedges took over the kicking duties from the missing Matty Beharrell, whose organisational skills were badly missed by the Dons, but failed to add the conversion from touch.
Not long after the Australian picked up a deep head wound and took no further part in the game.
Oldham took a firm grip on the game with three unanswered tries to open up an 18-4 lead which could have been more had the quality of their finishing matched that of their approach work.
The first try came on 14 minutes when loose-forward Liam Bent crashed over from close range for a try converted by Paul Crook.
Showing more determination, Oldham continued to camp in the Doncaster half and it came as no surprise when veteran full-back Ritchie Hawkyard weaved his way over from close range to give his side a 12-4 lead which reflected their dominance in the first quarter.
The Dons fell further behind on 26 minutes, second-rower Danny Langtree, who played several games on dual-registration for them earlier in the season when at Hull FC, forcing his way over for a third try.
Doherty threw the visitors a lifeline just before the break when touching down in the corner from a kick by full-back Richard Owen.
The Dons started the second half strongly and second-rower Brad Foster was held up over the line.
They continued to force Oldham on the back foot without being able to close the gap and fell further behind on 54 minutes after Langtree broke the line and found Crook, who also added the extras, on his inside.
The home side added another couple of tries to extend their lead to 34-8 before the Dons – who lost Rangi Chase with a leg injury - opened their account for the second half with a 70th minute converted try by hard-working prop Russ Spiers.
Oldham had the final say, however, with skipper Gareth Owen touching down following a one-handed pass out of the tackle close to the line.
The Dons could have to visit the Vestacare Stadium again in next month’s play-offs.
They will have to handle the big Oldham pack much better than they did on this occasion if they do and also bring their A game.
Dons: Owen, Doherty, Bower, Tali, Chrimes, Howden, Scott, Kesik, Spiers, Foster, Hodgson, Hedges. Subs: Boas,Brown, Boyle, Mariano.