Fax drop to fourth after disastrous showing at Doncaster

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Halifax dropped to fourth in the Championship after suffering a second successive defeat against a top-four rival, losing 39-18 at Doncaster.

A fortnight after being humbled 20-4 at home by Featherstone, Karl Harrison’s side flopped at the Keepmoat Stadium, trailing 19-6 at the break before falling further behind in the second half.

In a throwback to their indifferent form in the spring, the visitors’ problem was an inability to score points as much as stop them.

With young half back Ben Johnston absent through injury, Fax offered little threat going forward.

They did rally briefly when they closed the gap to 23-18 midway through the second period, but even that proved a false dawn on a tortuous afternoon made all the more frustrating by Featherstone’s defeat at home to Sheffield

The Dons’ attack was illuminated by veteran player coach Paul Cooke, who scored two tries, had a hand in most of the rest, and kicked a drop goal as his side notched a crucial win.

Fax had fallen behind with barely two minutes on the clock when Cooke’s hoisted bomb was left to bounce on the left and Mike Emmett pounced on the hacked on leftovers to score under the posts.

Stewart Sanderson kicked the conversion for a 6-0 lead and things almost went from bad to worse when Fax put the kick off out on the full.

They survived that scare though, and drew level when Andy Bracek, one of the visitors’ best on the day, ploughed over under the posts after a great ball from Ross Divorty had put Ryan Fieldhouse into space.

Fax’s parity didn’t last long, with a penalty putting the Dons on the attack and Cooke’s dummy just giving him enough room to twist over and score.

Sanderson was again on target for a 12-6 lead, but after that it was nip and tuck until Cooke kicked a drop goal and then help set up a try on the last play of the half for Emmett as Fax’s right side defence disintegrated.

At 19-6, Fax needed to score first, but instead it was Cooke who troubled the scoreboard with half an hour remaining, dummying over for a carbon copy of his first try.

Fax gave themselves some hope when Luke Adamson gritted his teeth and drove over the line and Paul Mennell exploited a gap at the play the ball to score his side’s third try, with Brown converting both for a 23-18 scoreline.

But as soon as Cooke got his hands on the ball again he put the impressive full back Dave Scott over, before setting up two decisive scores for veteran Steve Snitch, Sanderson adding both conversions.

Doncaster: Scott; Hodson, Leaf, Cunningham, Sanderson; Cooke, Wilkinson; Carbutt, Spaven, Robinson, Snitch, Colbon, Emmett. Subs: Castle, Waterman, Spiers, Dunn

Halifax: Fieldhouse; Potts, Casey, Tyrer, Fox; Murrell, Brown; Ambler, Mennell, Brooks, Adamson, Divorty, Bracek. Subs: Tonks, Cowling, Holden, Spencer

Referee: Joe Cobb