Toronto 26 Doncaster RLFC 14: Brave Dons unable to end Toronto's great record
Doncaster RLFC, beaten 26-14, failed in their bid to become the first side to beat newly-crowned League One champions Toronto Wolfpack at the Lamport Stadium.
But they didn’t go down without a fight and it wasn’t until the final quarter that the full-time Toronto side effectively put the result beyond doubt with a couple of quickly-taken converted tries.
Having posted their biggest win of the season (82-6) at the Keepmoat Stadium back in April, Toronto were given arguably their toughest game on home soil in the return.
They were without several regulars, but the Dons were even more depleted.
Three of their four regular props were unable to make the trip for this must-win game and head coach Richard Horne had to draft in two Hull FC youngsters - Jordan Lane and Jez Litten.
Neither let them down with teenager Litten, in particular, catching the eye.
Horne gambled with full-back Hakim Miloudi at stand-off and he proved a real handful for the Toronto defence – particularly in the first half.
It was the Frenchman who provided the flat pass which saw Lane open the scoring from close range on ten minutes.
Prior to that Toronto had had a try disallowed for a forward pass and full-back Tom Carr did well to prevent Adam Sidlow from grounding the ball over the line.
Toronto, who broke the record for the most points scored in a season during the game, opened their account when winger Jonny Pownall touched down in the corner from a long pass by Gary Wheeler.
The Dons continued to both defend well and move the ball about in impressive fashion during a half they dominated for long periods.
Hard-working skipper Kyle Kesik, pictured, forced his way over from acting half-back after Miloudi had been held just short following some good handling – particularly from centre Nick Rawsthorne - in the build-up. Jack Miller again added the extras to give his side a thoroughly deserved 12-4 lead.
Toronto had a try by Blake Wallace disallowed for a double movement just before the break, and had another chalked off for a forward pass just after the restart before Wallace touched down from close range on 49 minutes. Hall added the extras to make it 12-10.
The Dons had to dig deep for most of the third quarter as Toronto threw everything at them, though they extended their lead with a Miller penalty.
The home side drew level when Pownall raced in unopposed in the corner following good work by full-back Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e.
The Dons continued to work hard but a combination of their earlier efforts, the travelling and the heat, looked to be taking its toll as the game entered its final quarter.
When Pownall completed his hat-trick and centre Liam Kay touched down it looked as though as the floodgates would open in the final quarter.
But the Dons, who went close at the end, got their second wind and Toronto failed to add to their score though it needed great work by the cover to nail Hall just short and a tremendous one-on-one tackle by Miloudi to halt Kay in full flight.
* Dons: Carr, Jones, Rawsthorne, Jones-Bishop, Doherty, Miloudi, Miller, Braham, Kesik, Green, England, Lane, Hedges. Subs: Muranka, Litten Cross, Martin.