MATCH REPORT: Thunder snatch victory at the death

Newcastle Thunder’s run of good form was extended on Saturday afternoon, as a late Nick Newman drop goal sealed a last gasp 18-19 win over Doncaster RLFC.

The kick snatched the win in dramatic style and came after the Dons were charged down attempting a kick of their own with 90 seconds remaining, as Thunder continued to add momentum to their promotion chase.

It was an unexpected climax in a game that Thunder had comfortably been in control of but one that Newcastle will ultimately be satisfied by.

The scoring was opened with just four minutes played as Thunder’s half back pairing combined to scythe through the Doncaster defence.

Fed by a superb pass from Mikey Lewis, Newman broke away before being tackled just short of the line.

But Thunder ran through the tackle count and got into position to allow Joel Edwards to stretch over and score a converted try.

The lead was doubled with just 10 minutes gone as Thunder’s blitz attack came up with the goods.

Following a penalty against the hosts, Jared Blanke carried strongly put his side onto the front foot and from the resultant play the ball, a quick pass from Keal Carlile and a switch back inside laid on a well taken try for Liam McAvoy.

Half-way through the opening forty, after fielding a superb high ball, Lewis Young was snagged trying to play his way up field and lost control on the floor.

Making the most of their territory gain it became a six point game as the Dons played in winger Sam Doherty with an unopposed run to the line.

It was the only blemish of the half for the visitors and though they had to wait for another score, the were keeping Doncaster at arms length and asking plenty of questions in defence

Playing off the fourth tackle with three minutes to go, Newcastle again drew open a gap in the Doncaster defence which Lewis exploited to score his sides third of the day, speeding over from 30m out.

Starting the second half as they had finished the first, an awkward tackle left Young needing attention and though the fullback attempted to battle on, he ultimately had to retire on 50mins.

As he hobbled off, Misi Taulapapa was unlucky not to get the first score of the half as he chased his own grubbed kick thorough but was beaten by the bounce of the ball.

It marked the start of a momentum swing towards the hosts and one that they made the most of on 56 minutes as a well placed kick from former Thunderman Matty Beharrell sat up for the chasing Doherty to score his second.

Raising their game in response to the closing of the gap, Thunder engineered a number of opportunities that only last gasp defence stopped, before Doncaster repeated their trick to give Doherty his hattrick and made it all square with a quarter of an hour to go, setting up the heart-stopping finish.

When Newcastle knocked on in their own half, the Dons carefully played their way into position for Beharrell to attempt the kick that would steal the points, but a fearless charge from Lewis turned the course of the game.

Blocking the kick, the ricocheting ball cannoned downfield and into the path of Kieran Gill who carried his side to just 20m short of the Dons line.

Taking their time, Newcastle positioned Newman perfectly in front of the posts for him to coolly sink the crucial kick for a win that now makes next week’s home game against Workington Town, another key match in the push towards the Betfred Championship.

Tickets for Sunday’s 3pm kick off at Kingston Park Stadium can be bought by clicking here, calling 0871 2266060 or by visiting the stadium box office.

Newcastle Thunder

Lewis Young, Misi Taulapapa, Joe Brown, Kieran Gill, Alex Clegg, Nick Newman, Mikey Lewis, Liam McAvoy, Keal Carlile, Jared Blanke, Joel Edwards, Rhys Clarke, Harry Aldous, Evan Simons, Sam Luckley, Jack Aldous, Aaron Ollett

Tries: Edwards (4) McAvoy (10) Lewis (36)

Goals: Lewis 3/3

Drop Goal: Newman (79)