REPORT | Newcastle Thunder 34 Dons 4

REPORT | Newcastle Thunder 34 Dons 4

29th September 2019

The Dons' 2019 campaign came to an end with a 34-4 defeat at Newcastle Thunder in the Betfred League One preliminary play-off final.

Simon Finnigan’s side started the better of the two sides and should have gone in front inside the opening three minutes, as Misi Taulapapa looked to have all the time in the world to score in the corner before being bundled into touch by full-back Jordan Howden.

It didn’t take long for the first score to come though and it was via a move down Thunder’s prolific left edge. Quick hands eventually saw former Sheffield Eagles half-back Quentin Laulu Togagae find Kieran Gill on the outside and he stepped inside before powering his way over despite considerable defensive pressure.

They went further in front six minutes later when after back-to-back penalties in the Dons half, experienced hooker Keal Carlile made a darting run to the line and barged his way over close to the posts. Rhys Clarke’s second conversion gave Thunder an early 12-0 lead.

It was almost three tries in the opening quarter-of-an-hour as Lewis Young broke through the line, only to be thwarted by a last gasp effort from Howden on the line who made his second try-saving tackle of the afternoon.

That seemed to spark the Dons into life and they went close to reducing the deficit when Jason Tali looked to power his way over against his old club, but was denied by referee Jack Smith who adjudged him to be held-up over the line.

It was Newcastle who would go on to get the next points of the game and Young was the man to provide them with a moment of individual brilliance. The 24-year-old weaved his way towards the line before gliding through a gap and showing a good turn of pace to cruise over.

The visitors almost had their first try in the final few minutes of the first-half, as an attempt to keep the ball alive almost saw Sam Doherty score in the corner, but Newcastle winger Alex Clegg was on hand to prevent the try and concede a goal-line dropout.

Trailing 18-0 at the break, the Dons came out firing in the opening stages of the second-half and went over for a try when a high kick from Rangi Chase caused problems for the Thunder defence and in particular Clegg, with offloads from Chase and Watson Boas eventually leading to the former Man of Steel touching down as the ball looked to be heading out of play.

 A high penalty count was preventing the visitors from gaining a real foothold in the game, and they were punished when more good work from QLT saw him side-step away from two defenders before serving up the pass for Gill to go over for his second.

They extended their lead with 15 minutes left on the clock, as Clarke converted a penalty goal after Brad Foster was penalised for an off the ball incident with McAvoy to take his side to a four-score lead and effectively put the game to bed.

Thunder added more gloss to the score-line late on when a tiring defence stood off and allowed the ball to be worked quickly to Conor Fitzsimmons who found Clegg on the edge and he made no mistake in scoring in the corner.

There was still time left in the game for Gill to complete his hat-trick, as he went through a gap in the line to cap off a fine team performance and ensure they go into the play-off final on the back of consecutive home wins in their play-off campaign. 


REPORT | Newcastle Thunder 34 Dons 4