With Whitehaven already promoted to the Betfred Championship for 2020 it was time to find out who would be joining them to replace the relegated Rochdale and Barrow.
Fourth placed Doncaster were up against third placed Newcastle for the chance to travel to Oldham next weekend to secure a place in the League One play off final.
Both encounters between these two sides during the regular league season were close affairs with honours shared with one win apiece. The margins were just six points and a single drop goal so there was plenty of promise of a close game.
It was a sensational start for the visitors when a Matty Beharrell cross field kick was collected and grounded by Sam Doherty to ground in the corner with just over one hundred seconds on the clock. Beharrell failed to add the conversion, slicing his conversion wide.
Doncaster were unable to capitalise on their great start and as the half wore on it was Newcastle who were in the ascendency. A moment of ill discipline gifted Doncaster a penalty on thirty minutes but Beharrell was unable to hit the target.
A mass brawl, following a reckless swinging arm from Matty Wright on Halliday, saw the Newcastle centre sin-binned. On the next set Doncaster were held up over the line and on the next play they lost the ball over the line as the home side struggled to re-organise their defence.
Kieron Gill went close for Newcastle on thirty-six but lost the ball in the act of scoring when it looked like the teams would be tied up.
After thirty six barren minutes Jason Tali was on hand to take a Mariano pass and score in the corner to double the lead. Beharrell dropped his kick short of the cross-bar, his side going into the sheds with a narrow, but dexerved 8-0 lead.
Five minutes after the restart Frankie Mariano bulldozed his way over under the sticks for the third Doncaster try of the afternoon carrying four tacklers with him. Beharrell finally managed to add a conversion and the visitors had a 14-0 lead.
Matthew Chrimes scored a breakaway try on sixty-four after he picked the ball up from a wayward Newcastle pass and sprinted sixty metres to score under the sticks. Beharrell again added the conversion for a 20-0 lead to confirm their date with Oldham next week.
A very late consolation from Alex Clegg, stooping to score one-handed after being released down the left wing. Rhys Clarke added the extras for 6-20 but it did little to soften the blow.
This was Doncaster’s afternoon and a day when Newcastle never really got started against a very good defence and a side who took their chances whenever they arose. Doncaster will have put the frighteners on Oldham ahead of next weeks semi-final and on todays performance it would be a brave person who would tip against them picking up the remaining promotion place.
Thunder: Young, Clegg (T), Wright (SB on 33), Gill, Tualapapa, Laulu-Togaga’e, Newman, McAvoy, Carlile, Luckley, Fitzsimmonds, Clarke (G), Simons. Subs: Mustapha, Blanke, Aldous H, Ollett.
Doncaster: Howden, Doherty (T), Bower, Tali (T), Halliday, Chase, Beharrell (2G), Spiers, Kesik, Nzoungou, Hedges, Mariano (T), Wilkinson. Subs: Boyle, Douglas, Chrimes (T), Boas.
Referee: B Pearson.