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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Workington Town fail to shine in front of TV cameras

Doncaster 22 Workington Town 6: Workington Town failed their screen test at the Keepmoat Stadium last night and lost ground in the race for Championship One’s £50,000 prize.

Peter Lupton photo
Peter Lupton

Premier Sports’ TV presentation of the clash between two of the three title challengers was not the starring role that Town had been looking for.

For an hour they were clearly second-best to a well-drilled, organised and capable Doncaster side who thoroughly deserved their 22-0 advantage.

It was only in the final quarter that Town seriously asked questions of the home side and although a full-scale come-back to win the game was out of the question, there was the opportunity to snatch a bonus point.

In fact that really was within Workington’s capabilities as the Dons defence, so secure and watertight beforehand, started to creak under pressure. Unfortunately, the Cumbrians bombed two good chances to score tries which, in the final analysis, cost them the bonus point.

Barrow, Doncaster and Town – in that order now – have it between them and the big crunch game is at Derwent Park on August 12 when the Furness men travel north.

Winning the title, though, is now out of Town’s hands. If they beat Barrow then Doncaster will clinch the title if they win their last four games. Victory at the Keepmoat and over Barrow would have put Town firmly in the driving seat to land the cash prize and the championship.

There was certainly plenty of effort and commitment from the west Cumbrians, but particularly in the first half, they lacked guile and creativity as an attacking force to prise open their hosts.

At Derwent Park nine weeks earlier they had given Doncaster 18 points start before coming back to win 45-18 with one of the best performances a Workington team has produced in 10 years or more.

Last night they again had to play catch-up, trailing 16-0 at the break and quickly going further behind when the Dons scored right after the restart.

There was going to be no repeat of the heroics on home soil and well before the end the travelling fans would have settled for a bonus point which didn’t not materialise.

Doncaster had made the best possible start. Quick out of the blocks they exerted early pressure and on four minutes went ahead. Paul Cooke provided the perfectly-timed pass for second ower Craig Robinson top collect and dive over from close range. Cooke converted.

The hard-working Robinson proved a handful all night for Town as he put in a terrific shift for his side.

Town were rarely seen as an attacking force in the final third of the field, but they did have one opportunity when Elliott Miller just couldn’t hold Peter Lupton’s pass as he seemed to be going over in the corner.

Doncaster, who dominated the rucks and were sold in defence, were virtually error-free by comparison to Town and when they gained field position went further ahead on 23 minutes. This time it was Cooke himself who finished-off, twisting and turning in a tackle to stretch over the line for the touchdown which he converted.

Town’s discipline let them down in the closing stages of the half when two penalties were knocked over by Cooke to send the Dons into the break with a 16-point advantage.

The visitors simply had to score first on the resumption but within four minutes of the restart they had slipped further behind.

Lee Waterman, Doncaster’s top try scorer, moved nearer a club record when he dived in for his 28th try of the season after Cooke and Nathan Powley had set-up the position.

Doncaster continued with a virtually error-free game and it was only in the last 20 minutes, when Town saw more of the ball, that they were able to force mistakes and create openings.

A surging run from Jamie Thackray carried him to within five yards of the line and as the tackle came in he threw the ball inside, but unfortunately it was too high for Carl Forber to collect.

Twice Doncaster were forced to drop-out from beneath their posts as Workington, at last, showed some of the form that had carried them into second place.

The breakthrough did come but, six minutes from time, was too late to have any real effect.

Lupton finished-off a handling move across the posts by forcing his way over from close range and Forber added the extra two.

There was one last chance for Town to earn their bonus point but with men outside him Mark Calderwood put down Karl Olstrum’s pass 15 metres out.

Town have the perfect game to bounce back from this defeat, a trip to bottom side Gateshead on August 5. They should be able to get it out of their system before the real crunch – Barrow’s trip to west Cumbria which Town simply must win.

Doncaster: Waterman, Colton, Spurr, Cowling, Sanderson, Cooke, Fawcett, Castle, Kesik, O’Loughlin, Robinson, Kelly, Emmett. Subs (all used) Powley, Hughes, Rowe, Spiers.

Tries: Robinson, Cooke, Waterman. Goals: Cooke (5)

Workington Town: Carter, Miller, Mossop, Olstrum, Calderwood, Lupton, Forber, Macdonald, Mattinson, Coward, Phillips, Whitehead, Stack. Subs (all used): Bainbridge, Shackley, Robinson, Thackray.

Try: Lupton. Goal: Forber

Half-time: 16-0

Crowd: 972

Referee: Matthew Thomason, Warrington

Star man: Brett Carter

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