Whitehaven 52 Doncaster 22: Curtain comes down on Dons’ sorry season

Sheffield Rugby League
Sheffield Rugby League

Doncaster RLFC failed in their bid to go out on a high in their final Championship game of the season at the Recreation Ground on Saturday night.

Whitehaven picked up the win they needed to secure their second tier status and condemn Hunslet to League One rugby next season along with the Dons, when dishing out a 52-22 beating to Gary Thornton’s men.

Defeat meant that the Dons ended their 2015 campaign without an away win and just two wins in their 31games in all competitions.

Thornton, who is well into rebuilding his squad which he hopes will be strong enough to win promotion from League One at the first attempt next season, had hoped to build on the excellent win over Dewsbury last time out.

But a side, containing a number of players who won’t be at the club next season, flattered to deceive after a promising start and slumped to their fourth heavy defeat in as many games in Cumbria this season.

The one consolation for the Dons’ faithful making the long journey was the fact that the team gave a better account of themselves than they did at nearby Workington recently.

That was particularly the case early on. when there was little to choose between the two sides, and in the closing stages.

Former ‘Haven full-back Tom Carr denied Jessie Joe Parker , who came in for some stinging criticism from Dons’ CEO Carl Hall following a foul tackle on Shaun Leaf in the game at Castle Park in June, with skipper Kyle Kesik having a try disallowed at the other end.

It was slightly against the run of play when impressive stand-off Dion Aiye broke the deadlock with a superb individual effort from deep inside his own half.

Centre Danny Cowling, who kept his place after a mixed season by his own high standards following his display against the Rams, bombed an excellent chance before the Cumbrians ran in three more tries to lead 22-0.

Centre Alex Gilbey set up the chance for the returning Sam Doherty to go over only for the Cumbrians to strike again on the stroke of half-time.

Again facing a damage-limitation exercise in the second half, the Dons continued to struggle with Whitehaven’s pace and movement and conceded two further converted tries before Joe McLocklan’s long pass gave Cowling the chance to dummy his way over.

Parker’s converted try made it 46-10 but the Dons were not about to throw the towel in and had the satisfaction of scoring two of the last three tries.

Good work by Matt Groat and Mike Emmett, after leading try-scorer Peter Fox had been held just short following a long run, set-up the chance to Brad Foster’s first try for the club.

Carr also celebrated his first touchdown for the club at the death.

Whitehaven: Chamberlain; Wilde, Taylor, Holiday, Calvert; Aiye, Gore; Beaumont, Coyle, Chepplehow, Parke, Hepi, Brooks, Subs: Newton, Robinson, Davies, Quinn.

Doncaster: Carr; Doherty, Cowling, Welham, Fox; McLocklan, Wilkinson; Groat, Kesik, Spiers,Musolino, Foster, Emmett. Subs: Walton, Gilbey, Carbutt, Wright.