Keighley 30 Doncaster RLFC 22: Dons go out of cup in thriller

Liam Welham scored Dons' first try. Picture: Andrew Roe
Liam Welham scored Dons' first try. Picture: Andrew Roe

Doncaster RLFC made an early exit from the iPro Sport Cup, going down 30-22 against holders Keighley Cougars in an exciting first round tie at Cougar Park.

The result of a keenly-contested affair between two of the sides expected to feature in this season’s League One promotion race, was in doubt until the final minute when Keighley scored their sixth try.

The Dons contributed to their own downfall by having two men yellow carded during which time they conceded four tries.

Three of those tries came at the start of the second half as Keighley overturned a 12-4 interval deficit to lead 20-12 while Australian scrum-half Jordie Hedges cooled his heels in the sin-bin.

The visitors were the first to threaten with big prop Mark Castle getting over the line but being unable to touch the ball down.

Keighley, who had a try disallowed, hit back strongly but it was the Dons who broke the deadlock.

Strong-running centre Liam Welham touched down near enough for stand-off Jordan Howden – deputising with the boot for last season’s top points scorer Tom Carr – to add the extras.

The Dons suffered a double blow in quick succession with Charlie Martin, a close-season signing from Keighley, being sin-binned for a shoulder charge on 22 minutes and the holders cutting the deficit a minute later through centre Adam Ryder.

But the Dons extended their lead to 12-4 on 35 minute - close-season signing Feka Paleaaesina producing a try-scoring offload to send former Doncaster Toll Bar hooker Keiran Cross over for another converted try.

Influential scrum-half Jordie Hedges was sin-binned two minutes after the restart, and Keighley cut the deficit to 12-10 with a converted close-range try by Andy Gabriel.

Worse was to follow for the Dons as the home side scored two more quickly-taken tries, the second of which was converted by play-maker Matty Beharrell, to make it 20-12 before Hedges returned.

Dons now faced a test of character if they were to regain control. Keighley, however, showed no sign of relinquishing their grip and clever play by Beharrell sent Gabriel over for his second try in the corner on the hour.

Although there was enough time for the Dons to get back into the game, they had to score next and did so.

Martin helped make amends for his earlier indiscipline when crossing from close range a minute after Richie Barnett had knocked on with a try for the taking.

With the conversion being missed the Dons still needed two tries and a goal to win the game.

They got one through Paleaasina, goaled by Howden, on 75 minutes to close the gap to 24-22 but that is as good as it got.

Keighley: Hawkyard, Dixon, Lawton, Ryder, Gabriel, Milner, Beharrell; Law, Feather, Rawlins, Lynam, Tonks, Emmett. Subs: Whittel, Welsh, Kelly, Nicholson.

Dons: Sheriff, Doherty, Welham, Tali, Barnett, Howden, Hedges; Spiers, Kesik, Castle, Martin, England, Thackray. Subs: Cross, Scott, Braham, Paleaaesina.