MATCH REPORT – Newcastle Thunder 26 – 32 Doncaster RLFC

Newcastle Thunder were on the wrong side of a 32-26 score-line in the opening round of the 2019 Betfred League 1 season on Saturday afternoon, as a determined Doncaster took the points at Kingston Park Stadium.

Thunder had appeared to be en-route to a seemingly comfortable opening day triumph after assuming a 22-4 half time lead, but a combination of errors and indiscipline in the face of a whole-hearted fightback resulted in a disappointing end to round one.

There were early tries for both sides in the opening ten minutes as the season got off to a superb start with some energetic rugby from the two teams.

After forcing an immediate repeat set through a Doncaster error, Thunder opened the scoring through young debutant Alex Clegg as the academy graduate’s superb start to 2019 continued.

Having established a foothold deep in the Dons half, simple hands down the line created the try for the winger, who showed good strength to power through the covering defenders to get the ball down for his first League 1 try.

Doncaster looked to strike back immediately the hosts were thankful to Lewis Young’s try saving exploits as the fullback got down low to scoop up a neat little grubber and defuse a dangerous run, but the home line was breached two minutes later through Connor Bower.

Chasing through another cleverly placed grubber, the centre beat Thunder’s Clegg to the ball as both players committed to the cause and dove towards the loose ball, with the Doncaster man just getting in ahead for an unconverted score.

After a fallow twenty minutes where plenty of effort from both teams failed to come up with a telling break, Thunder hit top gear with a trio of scores to take a commanding lead.

First up was Misi Taulapapa who made the most of a strong carry from back row Sam Luckley and a well angled run from Remy Marginet to power over, before Lewis Young opened up his account after a powerful run from Alex Rowe.

Showing all the attributes that he was signed for, the prop set off on a blockbusting run from a quickly taken penalty, bashing through the Doncaster defensive line before flattening the visitors’ fullback, with a sharp play of the ball by Young creating the try.

Finishing the half as it started by enforcing a repeat set, Thunder used that to score their fourth try of the day as Liam Finn switched the angle of attack to bring his allowing support runners to come onto the ball at pace, before the ball was worked through the hands to Mo Ogoro for an elegantly worked try.

Having built up a head of steam, Doncaster scored against the tide at the start of the second half as Kyle Kesik put Jordie Hedges through a gap for a converted try, that kicked off a run of one-way scoring after Thunder were unable to muster a response despite getting into promising positions.

After Jason Tali and Matty Chrimes tries got the visitors to within two points, Thunder’s slow reaction to a 40/20 allowed Doncaster an almost unopposed run to the line.

Looking to arrest the swing in momentum, Thunder were unable to pick the Dons defensive lock and when Kesik managed to finish off a midfield break with just five minutes remaining, it effectively sealed the result.

Jason Payne’s men managed to regain their composure in the final stages and completed a superb attacking set by playing in Clegg for his second of the day, but that would prove little solace as the full-time hooter sounded.

Newcastle Thunder

Lewis Young, Mo Agoro, Misi Taulapapa, Joe Brown, Alex Clegg, Remy Marginet, Liam Finn, Jack Aldous, Evan Simons, Liam McAvoy, Rhys Clarke, Aaron Ollett, Sam Luckley, Harry Aldous, Jared Blanke, Keal Carlile, Alex Rowe

Tries: Clegg (6, 79) Taulapapa (26) Young (32) Agoro (37)

Goals Finn 3/5

Doncaster RLFC

Conner Wynne, Sam Doherty, Connor Bower, Jason Tali, Richard Owen, Jordan Howden, Matty Beharrell, Brandon Douglas, Kyle Kesik, Ryan Boyle, Bradley Foster, Danny Langtree, Jordie Hedges, Kieran Cross, Ryan Dixon, Connor Scott, Russell Spiers

Tries: Bower (12) Kesik (42, 75) Tali (52) Chrimes (56) Howden (63)

Goals: Beharrell 4/6