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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Craig Benson stars as Whitehaven beat Doncaster

Whitehaven 26 Doncaster 16: Another Craig Benson super show inspired Haven to their fifth Championship One win in six outings.

The full-back was kept busy by the Doncaster attack, but he was alive to every threat. And while he did not score, he played his part in two fantastic long-range efforts.

The first came in the third minute and was sparked by Tyrone Dalton, who was hugely-improved on his first senior appearance of the season the previous week at Rochdale, when the half-back played behind a struggling pack.

He sparked the 80-metre move with a neat offload to Spencer Miller, with Craig Calvert also involved before Benson found Chris Smith in support for a try.

Lewis Palfrey’s impressive tactical kicking in the first-half kept Doncaster on their toes, though hooker Mike Emmett did manage to cross the Haven line, only to be held up.

The hosts doubled their advantage on 18 minutes, after Smith went close again following a Lee Doran offload.

The ball was moved left and prop Paul Cullnean bull-dozed his way over, grounding the ball under heavy pressure.

Palfrey was made to pay for failing to find touch with a penalty from his own half moments later. Doran was then penalised for lying-on in the tackle, and sub Kyle Kesik, who had just joined the action, popped over from dummy-half to reduce the deficit, Scottt Spaven converting.

Haven went in happy at the interval following another superb try from deep. It was sparked by Carl Sice who found Benson, the full-back putting Palfrey in the clear.

The ex-Salford youngster showed impressive pace to hold off the cover on the way to the line. He then added his third successive conversion to make it 18-6.

The hosts looked to have put the issue beyond doubt on 43 minutes, when Spencer Miller ran a great line off a Dalton pass to go under the posts.

But a touch judge ruled the pass to be forward and the try was chalked off.

Brother Dexter then suffered the same fate when he crossed after Richard Farrer was judged to have knocked on in a tackle.

A Palfrey penalty goal just short of the hour mark put further daylight between the teams, though Doncaster were given hope from the long restart with Haven unable to stop the ball bouncing dead.

A Craig Robinson offload had Haven in trouble and winger Dean Colton crossed next to the sticks, Spaven goaling.

Haven closed the door on a potential comeback on 64 minutes, Dalton scoring a fine opportunist effort.

Doncaster seemed to have closed down his last-tackle options when he grubbered through the defensive line and won the race to touch down.

Palfrey’s conversion put Haven 14 points ahead, though they again fumbled the restart, Cullnean dropping Craig Calvert’s simple pass.

Prop Liam Crawley was held just short of the whitewash on final tackle, and the Yorkshire outfit were almost made to pay for failing to finish when Kesik was gang-tackled in to touch 10 metres from his line.

Smith was held up over the whitewash on the next set, and Doncaster’s hopes of securing a bonus point were still alive.

With just two minutes remaining, the visitors produced a fantastic set which ended with Benson forced to knock the ball dead.

And on the last play of the game, the impressive Robinson broke through a couple of tackles to score and secure the bonus point Doncaster deserved.

On the final whistle, both sides had reasons to be cheerful and Haven will go in to Good Friday’s derby at Workington Town in good heart.

Whitehaven: Benson, Fleming, Eilbeck, Wiper, Calvert, Palfrey, Dalton, Cullnean, C Smith, Ford, Doran, S Miller, Beattie. Subs: Sice, Hill, Farrer, D Miller

Tries: C Smith, Cullnean, Palfrey, Dalton; Goals: Palfrey 5

Doncaster: Butterfield, Colton, Morrison, Coady, Sanderson, Hughes, Spaven, Scott, Emmett, Carbutt, Robinson, Steen, Spurr. Subs: Kesik, Crawley, Sampson, Hughes.

Tries: Kesik, Colton, Robinson; Goals: Spaven 2

Attendance: 727

Referee: Matt Kidd

Star Man: Craig Benson

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