The battle for the 2017 Kingstone Press League One playoffs will go down to the final set of games after Doncaster were defeated by the Newcastle Thunder in the Dons last home game of the season.
French international fullback Hakim Miloudi got the game underway for Doncaster and forced an early goal line drop out.
Doncaster grabbed the opening try of the game when a grubber kick by captain Kyle Kesik found veteran Pete Green who managed to leap on the ball before it found the dead ball line. Jack Miller converted to make it 6-0.
The Dons conceded a soft try moments later when centre Daniel Olpherts fund his way down the left hand flank gliding past the Doncaster wingers. Conversion missed 6-4. Newcastle then took the lead for the first time when a well timed kick popped up into the hands of Liam McAvoy who touched down to make It 8-6.
Newcastle continued to put pressure onto the Dons defence and withstood multiple Doncaster attacks themselves. But eventually the visitors found the try line again this time thanks to Vincent Rennie who powered his way over to make it 16-6 with twelve minutes of the first half left.
Doncaster suffered an injury in the 33rd minute when second rower Charlie Martin had to be helped from the field going off to a round of applause from both sets of fans and coaches.
It was the home side who got next try when a Jordie Hedges pass found Jason Muranka who carried three Newcastle defenders over the line to score a try that put the Dons within 4 points.
Doncaster got the last laugh of the half when a looping pass found Jason Tali on the wing who paced his way over the line to make it all level at half time.
Half Time: Dons 16 – Newcastle 16
Hardcastle got the second half underway for the Newcastle Thunder and they started the second forty as they did the first, defending a brutal Doncaster attack.
Doncaster got the first points of the second half when Newcastle were penalised for a high tackle with Richard Horne telling his players to take the two. Miller kicked the goal to make it 18-16.
The visiting Newcastle fans were in full voice as both sides defences continued to stay strong, that was the case until the 56th minute when Hardcastle rushed past the Doncaster defence and touched down underneath the posts.
Kieran Cross then put the Dons level moments later when a series of offloads and flat passes found the stand off who touched down near the sticks. Moments later Nick Rawsthorne added an extra two points from 30 metres out with a penalty kick this gave the home side a 24-22 lead.
However this didn’t unnerve the Thunders attack as they scored another soft try when Evan Simons found his way through the Dons defence. Hardcastle added the extras to give Newcastle a four point lead once again.
Newcastle managed to hold on despite a ever present Doncaster attack.
Full Time: Doncaster 22 – Newcastle 28
DONS SQUAD | Miloudi, Jones, Rawsthorne, Tali, Doherty,Cross, Miller, Spiers,Kesik, Paleaaesina, Martin, Muranka, Green | SUBS: England, Braham, Castle, Hedges
THUNDER SQUAD| Young, Blair, Olpherts, Brown, Parker, Shaw, Hardcastle, Bustin, Simons, McAvoy, Aldous, Snitch, J.Aldous SUBS| Terch, Rennie, Luckley, Clarke
Dons Tries| Green (4) Muranka (37) Tali(40) Cross(61)
Dons Goals | Miller (4,38,40,50) Rawsthorne (64)
Thunder Tries| Olpherts (9) McAvoy (13) Rennie (28) Hardcastle (56)Simons (68)
Thunder Goals| Hardcastle (13, 28, 68)