Workington Town 22 Doncaster RLFC 21: Narrow defeat means Dons’ play-off bid may go down to wire

Dons' Jack Miller. Photo: Dean Atkins
Dons' Jack Miller. Photo: Dean Atkins

Fifth-placed Doncaster RLFC missed out on the chance to open up a four-point gap on the chasing group in the League One Super 8s with just three games to go.

Their play-off bid could now go down to the wire following their 22-21 defeat against Workington Town at Derwent Park.

Just as they had done the previous week in their win over Whitehaven, the Dons got off to a flying start with powerhouse prop Feka Paleaaesina crashing over from close range for a fourth-minute try. Jack Miller added the simple conversion to make it 6-0.

The Dons suffered a blow on 12 minutes when in-form dual-registered Hull FC back Nick Rawsthorne had to be helped off.

Miller put too much weight on his grubber kick over the line just after play resumed and the ball ran dead,

Relegated from the Championship last season, Town knew nothing other than a win would keep their play-off hopes alive and full-back Theerapol Ritson went close to opening their account on 16 minutes.

Play switched to the other end where Miller punished Town for a high tackle when converting the resulting 25m penalty to make it 8-0.

Only a try-saving tackle denied stand-off Kieran Cross when the action got underway again after another injury delay.

Winger Sam Doherty was bundled into touch close to the line on the last tackle of the same set.

The Dons hopes of building on their lead suffered a blow when winger Louis Sheriff was sin-binned for a high tackle on Ritson on 26 minutes.

In fact it was to prove a costly ten minutes and the home side took full advantage of their numerical advantage to score three unanswered tries to lead 14-8 before Sheriff’s return to the fray.

Winger Gabe Fell bagged the first two with second-rower Macauley Davies also touching down. Fortunately for the Dons Carl Forber could only add one conversion.

Miller pulled a point back when landing a drop goal on the hooter.

Town drew first blood after the restart, Forber landing a long-range penalty on 43 minutes to make it 16-9.

Leading try-scorer Jason Tali threw the Dons a lifeline when forcing his way over from close range. Miller’s conversion left the Dons just one point adrift.

Joy quickly turned to disappointment, however, as Town opened up a 22-15 lead with a converted try by second-rower Conor Fitzsimmons.

There was a let-off for the Dons on the hour mark when Town had a ‘try’ disallowed for crossing.

Both sides tested each other with kicks to the line midway through the final quarter.

Half-back Jamie Doran had the chance to kill off the game when dropping the ball over the line three minutes from time.

The Dons ride their luck and Cross made a try out of nothing when regathering his own kick to score a 79th minute converted try.

But it came too late to affect the result and there would be no repeat of the Dons dramatic league win at Derwent Park in June.

DONS: Carr, Sheriff, Rawsthorne, Tali, Doherty, Cross, Miller; Spiers, Wright, Paleaaesina, Muranka, Martin, Green. Subs: Castle, Hedges, Kelly, Thackray.