Doncaster Phoenix vs Harrogate
In an evenly contested Yorkshire Cup semi final, the lead changed several times till a last minute Donny try won them a well deserved Cup final place against Hull.
From the start, Harrogate seemed to be well in control but failed to concentrate on their forward superiority and the young Doncaster backs took full advantage.
Good Harrogate possession led to them opening with a stream of well worked backs attacks. The ball was spread right from a quick Paddy Hebblethwaite break and Harry Barnard outpaced the cover for a try converted by Sam Fox. Towards the end of the half, yellow cards were awarded to Keane Naylor and Fox leading to increased Donny pressure. In the final move of the half, quick scrum ball was passed to home winger, Bill Smith whose try made it 5-7 at the break.
Harrogate extended their lead early in the second half when a Hebblethwaite tap penalty opened up the home defence. The ball was quickly spread to Harry Jukes whose pace took him clear for a fine try. Harrogate’s bigger forwards were now starting to tire in the fast, open conditions and an excellent Donny cross kick was well gathered by winger Seva Bulamaku whose try made it 10-12.
The home momentum increased and, when an attempted Harrogate clearance was charged down, Sam Bottomley, Donny’s outstanding captain gathered and raced in to score a try converted by Sam Brookes. This put Donny 17-12 ahead. Bottomley is a very distinguished and popular former Harrogate player but this did not make his try any more welcome to the visiting supporters.
A Donny defensive offside offence was penalised and Harrogate set up a driving maul from the subsequent attacking line-out. David Doherty tucked in at the back of the maul to score and regain Harrogate’s lead. However, more excellent home backs play followed and Brookes scored the game’s final try to put Doncaster Phoenix in the Yorkshire Cup Final on the 25th April.
Doncaster Phoenix: Wright, Bulamaku, Smith, Bottomley, Fowler, Brookes, Pocklington, Lowcock, Bergmanus, Cartwright, Robinson, Langton, Hill, Taylor, Brink. Subs:- Wheelhouse, Ikells, Rivers, Khali, Preman, Adams, Lennard.
Harrogate: Rosillo, Barnard, Naylor, Miller, Jukes, Fox, Hebblethwaite, Purkiss-McEndoo, Larder, Ward, Brady, Dodds, Coser, Morat, Heaton. Subs:- Peace, Yorke, Boyde, Green, Doherty
Referee: Alan Chandraken (Yorkshire)
Match report by Bill Barrack