Whitehaven 25 Doncaster 20

Whitehaven held on for another important League One victory which ensures them of a top-three finish.

They had looked completely in charge when they held a 25-6 lead just after the hour but Doncaster came back well to cause a few heart-stopping moments before the hosts made the finish line.

Player-coach Carl Forster, two-try Jordan Burns and all-action Scott McAvoy were big performers in a whole-hearted Whitehaven display.

Doncaster, keen to impress new coach Richard Horne, were quickly into their stride and forced a drop out from their first set of six.

Whitehaven’s first set was defused when Louis Sheriff held onto a Paul Crook bomb and Doncaster were able to clear with the help of a subsequent penalty.

When Haven got their first penalty, Jesse Joe Parker tried to force his way over but, after he was held up eventually, Doncaster gathered James Newton’s grubber and forced their way clear.

It had been end to end but on nine minutes Whitehaven took the lead. Tommy Holland was able to find the line from short range after being set-up by James Tilley. Paul Crook converted.

There was almost an immediate riposte as Jason Tali burst through to the line but, when halted inexplicably, threw out a wild pass which went straight to Holland.

Tali was looking a dangerous runner in the centre for Doncaster but again he spoiled his good work by throwing out a poor pass.

Carl Forster came on as a substitute and was soon in the action, being dragged down by the post. When the ball was moved out, referee Andy Sweet spotted a punch and awarded Whitehaven a penalty which Crook easily put over in the 23rd minute.

Whitehaven were able to extend their lead on 27 minutes when a superb long pass from Crook saw Jordan Burns getting round a tackle and charging over to score the second try. Crook added the conversion.

But several Whitehaven players were taking knocks and it was having an effect.

When Doncaster gained ground down the middle through Iefata Paleaaesina, they were able to spread the ball to the right where Louis Sheriff dived over in the corner. Jack Miller landed the conversion.

On 39 minutes, Chris Taylor was shown a yellow card after delaying a tap penalty as a few minutes earlier he had escaped punishment after being involved in an incident over a dangerous tackle.

Whitehaven were under pressure with 12 men at the start of the second half and young Danny Green was soon in the wars.

He couldn’t quite hold the ball as he went for an interception but going in pursuit took a boot to the head.

Whitehaven were doing well, though, as they held Doncaster and came back strongly with Scott McAvoy to the fore. Parker almost got over and then Crook took the opportunity to put over a drop goal.

It was an opportune time to score because Taylor returned to the field on the restart and just in time to see Haven increase their lead.

Burns was on hand to get over when they got the ball near the Doncaster line and complete the rush to score. Crook converted.

Forster was leading by example, putting in a lot of outstanding tackle and Whitehaven were starting to turn the screw, well in charge.

They increased their lead on the hour when Parker took a lovely pass from Roper and surged over in the corner with several tacklers hanging onto him.

But out of the blue, Doncaster scored a long range try on 63 minutes. Roper dropped a pass on the visitors’ 20 which was picked up by Connor Scott. He broke and fed Ryan Wright who made ground before putting Jack Logan scampering over in the corner.

Doncaster sensed a come-back and on 67 minutes they made further inroads. Quick hands across the line saw Logan coming on the burst to get in for the try. Miller’s easy-looking conversion hit the post.

Ten minutes from the end, Doncaster scored again.

Once more, they moved the ball smartly out to the right and Sheriff dived over in the corner. Fortunately, Miller was wide with the touchline conversion.

But with five points in it and Doncaster with their tails up, Whitehaven faced a tough final ten minutes.

Whitehaven at last regained some poise in attack and a clever kick from Crook almost got Aiye over but it did force a drop-out.

When Jason Muranka broke down the middle he was stopped by a fine tackle by Burns, who had put in a big shift for his side.

It was a welcome hooter for Whitehaven but they had deserved the points for their dominance over the first hour.

Whitehaven: Burns, Calvert, Parker, Taylor, Green, Roper, Crook, Shackley, Newton, Holland, Aiye, McAvoy, Tilley. Subs: Forster, Holliday, Maudling, Worthington.

Tries: Holland (9), Burns (27, 50), Parker (60).

Goals: Crook (4/6) Drop goal: Crook

Doncaster: Carr, Sheriff, Logan, Tali, Barnett, dean, Miller, Spiers, Kesik, Scott, martin, Downs, P. Green. Subs: Thackeray, Palaaesina, Wright, Muranka.

Tries: Sheriff (34, 70 ) Logan (63, 67)

Goals: Miller (2/4)

Referee: Andy Sweet

Crowd: 606

Penalties: 9-6

Star Man: Jordan Burns