Dewsbury Rams produced a superb display on Thursday evening to defeat Doncaster 24-10 and all but clinch their place in the Kingstone Press Championship play-offs.
The Rams showed heart, desire and determination to end Doncaster’s long unbeaten run and virtually ensure they will compete in the play-offs at this level for the first time in 13 years.
Glenn Morrison’s men produced a virtually faultless first half display and although they fell behind to a fortuitous Doncaster try, the Rams battled back to lead 18-4 at half-time.
Doncaster drew first blood after 10 minutes when a Dewsbury move broke down and Danny Cowling gathered the ball and raced 90 metres for an unconverted try.
After the early lapse, the Rams were superb in attack and they piled pressure on The Dons to build up a healthy first half lead.
Doncaster knocked on at the kick off and Dewsbury took full advantage as Brad Watkinson skipped out of a tackle and scored between the posts. Keiran Hyde converted.
Morrison then produced a masterstroke by introducing Tom Lillycrop, Makali Aizue and Tommy Gallagher from the bench.
All three, along with Jonathan Schofield, had a huge influence on proceedings, with Lillycrop in particular driving the Rams forward.
Within a minute of the triple substitution, the powerful Aizue drove towards and the line and Kane Bentley was on hand to gather and crash over near the posts, with Hyde again converting to put Dewsbury 12-4 ahead.
Soon after the fourth Rams sub, Schofield, was alert to scoop up a loose ball and had the awareness to offload and send Tommy Gallagher over for a try which Hyde again improved.
Tempers frayed early in the second half and a brawl involving players from both sides left Dewsbury’s James Craven sporting a bloody nose.
When calm was restored, Doncaster’s Cowling and Rams half-back Hyde sin-binned.
On the very next tackle, Karl Pryce was sin-binned for a high tackle, which led to a second, brief, altercation and Dewsbury were forced to spend a time down to 11 men.
Crucially the Rams defence held out the following Doncaster attack, before they mounted an attack of their own.
While still down to 11 men, Dewsbury scored a vital fourth try as Craven exacted revenge by gathering Aaron Brown’s crossfield kick to touch down.
Dale Morton took over the kicking duties was unable to land the difficult conversion but kicked a penalty soon after to put the Rams 24-4 ahead.
Dennis Tuffour replied with a late Doncaster try, superbly converted from the touchline by Dave Scott, but Dewsbury’s defence brilliantly denied the visitors any further points and a crucial bonus point, which all but secures the Rams’ a play-off place.
Dewsbury Rams: Morton; Craven, Pryce, Beckett, G Scott; Brown, Hyde; Nash, Bentley, Hepworth, Hale, Watkinson, Tonks. Subs: Aizue, Schofield, Lillycrop, Gallagher.
Doncaster: Butterfield; Tuffour, Cowling, Dawson, D Scott; Cooke, Fawcett; Castle, Emmett, Carbutt, Kelly, Spurr, Robinson. Subs: Kesick, Trout, Walker, Waterman
Referee: Gareth Hewer.