Rugby league: Doncaster made to look like amateurs

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Doncaster 35 Oldham St Annes 21 aet; score at 80min 15-15

FOR THE brave amateurs of Oldham St Annes, this was a Silk Cut Challenge Cup-tie that came a couple of weeks too late and went on a little too long.

The team from the Premier Division of the National Conference - the next level below the professional game - would have beaten last year's Doncaster side, who finished bottom of the Second Division, with some ease.

As it was, they frequently outplayed them in normal time, only to fall victim to the recent injection of experience and ability, spearheaded by Garry Schofield, in extra time.

Schofield provided the final pass for four of Doncaster's tries and the former Great Britain captain scored the one that clinched the match himself, but for a long time he and his professional colleagues were in serious danger of going out to amateur opposition, just as the club did last year.

At the start of both halves, Doncaster appeared to be cruising, but they were pegged back on both occasions.

Schofield's long pass sent Dean Creasser in for the opener, but St Annes were level at half-time, thanks for two penalties from Richard Badby.

Class again appeared to be telling after the break, when Schofield's short ball released another of Doncaster's new acquisitions, Lee Maher, and then Glen Bell battled his way over the line for a 10-point lead.

But Oldham were fiercely determined, and equalised with tries from Glen Galbraith and Richard Healey, the latter of them converted by Badby.

As the 80 minutes ran out, Rob Whitemoss gave Oldham the lead with a drop goal only for Graham Southernwood to match it with three minutes left.

Amid shambolic scenes, both teams and the game's most experienced referee, Russell Smith, obviously believed that meant a replay, only to be reminded by the Rugby League's chief executive, Neil Tunnicliffe, who happened to be in the stand, that ties have to be settled at the first attempt this season.

When the game was eventually restarted, it was Doncaster who had the fuel in the tank to win it, Schofield sending in John Bruce and then exchanging passes with Lee Senior to score himself.

Guy Adams then went over for Doncaster, before Badby touched down and converted for a defiant St Annes, who were done far less than full justice on the scoreboard when Craig Moore scored again for Doncaster in the last minute.

Doncaster: Maher; Watson, Moore, Okul, Creasser; Schofield, Rowse; Bell, Adams, Bruce, Miller, Summerhill, Southernwood. Substitutes: Senior, Edwards, Morgan, Maskill.

Oldham St Annes: Wright; Sykes, Mort, McPherson, Whitmoss; Badby, P Kay; Akeroyd, M Kay, Russell, Brierley, Galbraith, Mitchell. Substitutes: Taylor, Gill, Healey, Deakin.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).