Cornwall RLFC 16 Doncaster 48 – Match Report
April 9, 2023
Cornwall’s endeavours weren’t reflected on the scoreboard as they were defeated by a Doncaster side, inspired by captain Sam Smeaton’s four-timer.
The home outfit opened the scoring through the outstanding Adam Rusling before Smeaton replied in kind for Doncaster. Two more converted tries then followed for the visitors before Rusling’s half-back partner Cam Brown scored to keep Cornwall in contention.
Doncaster restored their two score lead 90 seconds before the break and then after the turnaround, Smeaton’s hat-trick score and the first ot two Brett Ferres tries seemingly put the game beyond Cornwall.
Brown’s second try just shy of the hour mark then gave Cornwall a glimmer of hope, but this was extinguished when Charley Bodman was sent to the sinbin late on. Doncaster profited on Cornwall’s numerical disadvantage when Tom Halliday crossed out wide before two further late scores hoisted Doncaster close to the 50-point mark.
Although Richard Horne’s side finished the game well, they very much started proceedings on the back foot and it was no surprise to see Cornwall draw first blood. Rusling, who demonstrates the maturity of a seasoned pro at just 21, was too quick and elusive near Doncaster’s line and he went over.
The former Hull KR man surprisingly missed what appeared to be a straightforward conversion but the Choughs were ahead. It was a lead that only lasted four minutes as Doncaster, hotly tipped for promotion this year, demonstrated why.
Firstly Smeaton cut a wonderful line to score under the posts and the centre Brad Hey squeezed in out wide. Smeaton then scored a similar try to his first to leave Doncaster in the box seat but Cornwall wouldn’t lie down. Brown touched down a kick through for the hosts’ second of the afternoon.
Crucially, Doncaster had the final say in the opening 40 through full-back Elliot Hall and they seemed to wrestle control just after half-time when Smeaton broke the Cornish rear guard for the third time.
Former England World Cup star Ferres then got his name on the scoresheet as the game threatened to run away from Cornwall and last season, it perhaps would have done so for the fledgling outfit.
However, the Choughs are a different proposition in this, their second professional season and Brown dropped his shoulder to score his fifth try in just three games with 59 minutes on the clock.
Another encouraging and vociferous home crowd had their hopes of a comeback raised at this point and Cornwall were on top until Bodman was sent for a 10-minute breather by referee James Jones.
Before the Welshman returned to the field, Doncaster had further extended their lead through rangy winger Halliday as the away side made the extra man count out wide.
And then, demonstrating a ruthless streak that will stand them in good stead for a certain promotion push, Doncaster scored two further tries as time ticked down through Ferres and, fittingly, skipper Smeaton.
For Cornwall, there was further evidence of the clear progress the side have made under Mike Abbott’s stewardship and although the scoreboard indicated a routine Doncaster win, the South Yorkshire outfit had to work hard for their two competition points.
Cornwall: Whitton, Carter, Nichol, aaronson, Trerise, Brown, Rusling, Ray, Collins, Bolger, Cullen, Dimech, Lloyd. Interchange (all used): Boots, Badham, Singleton, Bodman.
Tries: Rusling (9), Brown (35, 59)
Goals: Rusling 2/3
Sinbin: Bodman (67) – high tackle
Doncaster: Hall, Halliday, Hey, Tali, Corion, Johnstone, Robinson, Cooper, Burnes, James, Ferres, Smeaton, McConnel. Interchange (all used): Holdstock, Kenga, Roberts, Whitmore.
Tries: Smeaton (13, 25, 44, 80) Hey (22), Hall (38), Ferres (51,79), Halliday (75),
Goals: Robinson 6/9
Referee: James Jones; Touch Judges: Will Gilder & Phil Johnson; Reserve Referee: Alex MacDonald