Dons fight off plucky spree by minnows

Mike Emmett gets a first half try for Doncaster
Mike Emmett gets a first half try for Doncaster

Paul Cooke’s men overcame a potential banana skin as they defeated Hemel Stags to progress into the last 16 of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup.

However, Doncaster’s lower league opposition did not make life easy as the Championship One side had the hosts on the backfoot during a strong first half spell.

The Dons looked to stamp their authority early on as Richard Wilkinson released Lee Waterman for a trademark try down the right in the fourth minute before Stewart Sanderson added the extras for a 6-0 lead.

Sanderson was then the grateful receiver of a lofted pass from Cooke as he crashed over five minutes later. The winger converted from a tight angle for 12-0.

Smart passing out wide saw Cooke off-load into Mick Butterfield’s path who touched down, however, Sanderson saw his kick crash off the post. Moments later Waterman burst through unchallenged, picking out Wilkinson inside to score. This time Sanderson fired over for 22-0 and 17 minutes gone.

However, Hemel hit back with a strong passage of play as their first real attack of the game saw Essad Al-Zubaidi go over. Barry-John Swindells added the extras.

The Stags reduced the deficit further following fantastic individual play from Alex Ingerfield who dodged the challenges to dive over. A Swindells conversion made it 22-12 in the 23rd minute.

Doncaster were later rocked by an injury to Scott Spaven as the hooker was stretchered off and Hemel pounced as James Hill found himself in acres of space down the right to collect a searching pass and go over.

Swindells added to the Hertfordshire outfit’s total with a solid kick for 22-18.

After some stern words from player-coach Cooke, Doncaster gave themselves a 10-point gap as Mike Emmett, who replaced Spaven, deceived his marker as he cut back onto his left and drove over. Sanderson converted.

A Grant Edwards score and Sanderson goal took Doncaster into a 34-18 interval lead.

Chris Spurr, who retired at the end of last season, made a comeback for Doncaster andhelped engineer another try - this time the impressive Wilkinson scoring. Sanderson converted to make it 40-18.

Prop Ryan Wilson put Doncaster 44-18 ahead with a well-worked try and Sanderson kicked the extra two points.

Spurr notched his first try this season and Sanderson kicked over before the latter raced through unmarked for a further score. His goal took the Dons into a 58-18 lead.

Liam Welham and Cooke capped off a much better second half for Doncaster with two further scores, Sanderson kicking one conversion, for 68-18.