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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Dramatic comeback sees Dons snatch late victory

WHITEHAVEN will have to do it the hard way in the play-offs after Doncaster staged a dramatic late comeback at the Keepmoat Stadium.

David Seeds’ side led 18-10 going into the final 10 minutes of a bruising and pulsating Championship One encounter.

But late scores from Craig Fawcett and Nev Morrison, whose winning try came just three minutes before the hooter, condemned Haven to a gut-wrenching reverse.

The defeat leaves Haven five points adrift of fourth-placed Doncaster with just two games remaining.

Seeds said: “Obviously we’re absolutely devastated with the outcome but we put it on a plate for Doncaster.

“We played a lot better than we have done in recent games but mistakes cost us in the end.

“There were a couple of other positives – Paul King and Chris Gerrard came into the side and really looked the part.

“But looking ahead to the play-offs we’ll have to do it the hard way.

“We’ll have to regroup this week and keep our chins up.”

Doncaster, who are now now eyeing a top two finish, broke the deadlock on nine minutes.

Mike Coady beat Craig Calvert to Craig Fawcett’s high kick to touch down in the corner and give the hosts a four-point advantage, but Scott Spaven dragged his difficult conversion attempt wide of the left hand post.

Haven were struggling to gain the upper hand against a determined Doncaster outfit but midway through the first half they were gifted the chance to cancel out Coady’s try.

Lee Doran charged down Fawcett’s grubber kick deep inside Haven territory and broke quickly to half way before Loz Hamzat ghosted through the Dons’ defensive line.

Lewis Palfrey kicked Whitehaven into a 6-4 lead – and, slightly against the run of play, the visitors extended their lead to eight points just five minutes before the break.

A sweeping move from left to right allowed Hamzat to dive over in the corner for his second score of the game.

Palfrey followed it up with a superb conversion from out wide to give Haven a 12-4 half-time advantage.

But Whitehaven were caught cold after the restart.

Kyle Kesik was allowed to reach for the line and plant the ball down with the second period just two minutes old.

Spaven’s simple conversion reduced the deficit to just two points – and only a last-ditch Craig Benson intervention prevented Kesik from latching onto a Spaven kick and scoring what would have been a simple try for the hosts.

Debutant prop Paul King, signed until the end of the season after leaving Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, was then held up by a resolute Doncaster defence at the base of the goalpost as Whitehaven looked to increase their slender lead.

Haven’s third try did arrive on 63 minutes when Palfrey played in Luke Isakka and the prop powered over from five yards, with Palfrey again adding the extras.

Winger Hamzat then had to be helped from the field nursing a leg injury as the visitors looked to take the sting out of the Dons.

But Doncaster were not finished yet.

The impressive Fawcett showed good strength to power over the line from close range with nine minutes remaining on the clock and Spaven’s kick set up a thrilling finale.

And the home side snatched a dramatic win when Morrison was on the end of a brilliant move following an incisive Mick Butterfield run from well inside his own half.

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