London ball

Doncaster finish fourth despite clear win over London Skolars

The defeat of the North Wales Crusaders the previous night meant the Dons could beat them to third place if they won by 51 points or more.

A tough but not impossible request given that Skolars lost 60-6 away to seventh-placed Oldham last month.

But one they never looked like to achieve in a subpar first half.

Jason Tali is making good ground against the London Skolars. Photo: Andrew Roe/AHPIX LTD

However, they turned on the style in the second half, scoring 46 unanswered points to miss their goal of just three points.

The Dons’ task was made much more difficult when winger Leighton Ball won the run with a kick over the line to give Skolars a 4-0 lead.

The visitors closed again before second rower Leon Ruan hit the ground for a ninth-minute try converted by scrum-half Connor Robinson.

Loose forward Matt Ross landed another kick that should have been cleared and which Phil Lyon converted to give his team a 10-6 lead early in the second quarter.

When Anthony Fox used his considerable volume to smash for a converted second down, the Dons led 16-6.

Center Jason Tali blasted his way in from close range just before the half-hour mark for a converted try only for Skolars to regain their ten-point lead in the 34th minute when lively Lyon landed a rebound kick.

Veteran full-back Misi Taulapapa hit the ground for a well-worked converted try after combining with Tali.

Stand-off Ben Johnston, who had barely played at this point, put skipper Sam Smeaton over after a long run, which Robinson converted to give his team a two-point interval lead.

That’s how things stayed until the 53rd minute when winger Travis Corion hit the ground next. Robinson added the extras again as he did after Johnston’s individual try a few minutes later, to give his team a 14-point lead.

Hooker Greg Burns hit the ground for a superb try in the 62nd minute after a sparkling handling. The one-way traffic continued with the impressive Tali creating the chance for Aaron Ollett-Hobson to score a converted eight try.

Smeaton, winger Jack Sanderson and Ross Whitmore made converted tries in quick succession to make it 66-22.

When Johnston landed minutes from the hour, third place looked like it was within reach for the Dons, but it wasn’t.

Gifts: Taulapapa, Sanderson, Smeaton, Tali, Corion, Johnston, Robinson, Kenga, Burns, Roberts, Ollett-Hobson, Ruan, McConnell. Replacements: Petersen, Whitmore, Holdstock, Wilkinson.