Halifax 48 Doncaster RLFC 6: Injury-hit Dons given harsh lesson at The Shay

Stewart Sanderson.   Picture: Malcolm Billingham

Stewart Sanderson. Picture: Malcolm Billingham

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High-flying Doncaster came crashing down to earth in their Championship top-four clash against Halifax at The Shay.

The home side took full advantage of Doncaster’s injury problems – three players came off in the first half – to run in nine tries on their way to their biggest victory of the season.

Such was the quality of their performance the Dons would have had to have been on the top of their game - even if they had remained at full-strength – to entertain any realistic hopes of claiming the spoils.

The Dons made the early running and Halifax did well to deny second-rower Mike Kelly - who took no further part in the game - a second-minute try.

It merely proved a stay of execution, however, with centre Joe Arundel rewarding some smart handling when touching down for his first try for the club.

Fortunate to be only 4-0 down at that stage, Halifax winger Gareth Potts touched down in the corner from Scott Murrell’s long ball to level the scores on 13 minutes.

The visitors suffered a second injury blow when Nicklas came off.

The home side added to their problems on 25 minutes, Ross Divorty cutting through some uncharacteristic weak defence to score near enough for Steve Tyrer to convert.

Winger Nev Morrison was bundled into touch a couple of metres out on the half-hour in Doncaster’s first attacking threat for some time.

Castle limped off shortly after as the Dons injury problems continued to mount.

Strong-running second-rower Dane Manning brushing off several defenders like flies to present Tyrer with a simple conversion to make it 16-4.

The Dons went close again in the dying seconds of the half but had to settle for Stu Sanderson penalty to reduce the interval deficit.

Murrell went over for another converted try to extend the Halifax lead to 22-6 within five minutes of the restart.

Potts bagged his second two minutes later after a slick handling move.

The Dons hit back from a similar deficit in the corresponding game last season to grab a high-scoring draw.

But there was never any likelihood of history repeating itself – a point underlined when Manning scored his second try to make it 30-6.

The Dons cause wasn’t helped when Morrison was sin-binned on 55 minutes and Halifax wasted no time in making their numerical advantage pay off with another converted try.

They added two further tries as well-beaten Doncaster suffered their first away defeat of the campaign and

Although Dons’ player-coach Paul Cooke will be bitterly disappointed with the result, and concerned about the injuries, he would no doubt have settled for a seven-point haul at the start of the month given the quality of opposition they have faced during March.

Halifax: Fieldhouse, Saxton,Tyrer ,Cowling, Potts, Murrell, Johnston, Ambler, Kaye, Brackek, Manning, Divorty, Adamson. Subs: Mennell, Tonks, Davies, Casey.

Dons: Scott, Morrison, Welham, Arundel, Sanderson, Cooke, Nicklas,Spiers, Spaven,Carbutt, Dent, Kelly, Emmett. Subs: Wildie, Waterman, Castle, Wilson.

Referee: J Cobb

Attendance: 1,482