MATCH REPORT – Thunder 20 – Doncaster 22

Newcastle Thunder were left to rue small mistakes at Kingston Park Stadium on Sunday afternoon, after losing out to league-leaders Doncaster RLFC 20-22 in Betfred League 1.

In a closely fought contest, two converted tries that were conceded off the back of Thunder’s errors ultimately proved to be Jason Payne’s side’s undoing, in a showing far more representative of the two team’s closeness than the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup tie last week.

Conceding a penalty on the first tackle of their opening set, Thunder found themselves in early trouble, with a try from Charles Martin giving the Dons an early four-point lead.

Putting aside the early setback, Newcastle worked their way back into the game as back to back penalties give a platform to launch an attack on the Dons line, though imprecision saw the ball lost forward and the chance slip out of reach.

After a number of other forays deep into Doncaster’s half were left unconverted, Thunder were punished after spilling a high ball 10m from their own line, as Jack Down won the race to the loose ball and dotted down.

It was a score against the balance of play but left the hosts needing something to ignite their afternoon, which came on the half hour through Lewis Young and Evan Simons.

Combining in the middle of the park, Young slipped his way through the Dons defense and with Simons running great support off his inside shoulder, was able to take a scoring pass, with the try converted by Tom Shaw.

It sparked a sustained spell of pressure on the Doncaster line in the closing stages of the first half, though despite forcing a goal line drop out, the clock prevented Thunder from attempting to force the issue and extend their lead.

After conceding in the first minute at the start of the match, Thunder looked to have taken the lead just as rapidly in the second as Conor Fitzsimmons crashed through on a powerful run, though the final pass from the returning Rhys Clarke was called forward.

Maintaining the good start, the potential provider turned finisher nine minutes later as his support line allowed him to take the pass and bulldoze his way for a converted try that gave Thunder the lead.

With the hour mark approaching, a high tackle on Tuoyo Egodo gave Thunder a penalty that Shaw used to take his side’s lead to four points, with the home side very much in the ascendency.

That momentum edged back towards the visitors with fifteen minutes to go, as Doncaster took advantage of forcing a goal line drop out by scoring a converted try on the repeat set through Sam Doherty.

The lead was then up to eight points on the next set when Brad England broke through attempted tackles in midfield and set fullback Hakim Miloudi off for another converted try.

Sticking to their task, Thunder got within two points after Conor Fitzsimmons ran a superb arcing line around the Don’s defence for a converted try with two minutes to go, but it would be as close to taking the win that they’d get as Doncaster ran down the clock to escape with their unbeaten run intact.

Thunder are next in action on Good Friday, when they travel to face Coventry Bears in a 3pm kick off at the Butts Park Arena.

Newcastle Thunder

Ritson, Agoro, Brown, Egodo, Capper, Young, Shaw, McAvoy, Simons, Rennie, Luckley, Ollett, J. Aldous, Clarke, H. Aldous, Fitzsimmons, Pointer

Try Scorers – Simons, Clarke, Fitzsimmons

Goals – Shaw 4/4

Doncaster RLFC

Miloudi, Doherty, Bower, Welham, Logan, Hedges, Harris, Spiers, Kesik, Scott, Martin, England, Wilkinson, Braham, Downs, Litten, Muranka

Try Scorers – Martin, Downs, Doherty, Miloudi

Goals – Miloudi 3/4

Attendance – 818