FORMER Leeds Rhinos academy full-back Jimmy Watson produced a fine personal display, but had to settle for losing pay after Hunslet Hawks were beaten 42-34 by visitors Featherstone Rovers.
Featherstone would have been further than 24-12 ahead at the break but for a remarkable defensive effort by Watson, who made four try-saving tackles and contributed to two more.
Watson pulled off a brilliant one-on-one tackle to halt Ryan Verlinden and got back to stop Gareth Moore after he had intercepted Jordan Lilley’s pass close to Rovers’ line.
He also kept Reni Maitua and Jamie Cording out, helped drag Luke Cooper down and – along with Charlie Martin – held Moore up over the line.
Veteran Paul Cooke, who began the season as Doncaster’s coach, made his debut for Rovers, scoring two tries and providing the final pass for another, but went off in the second half with a calf injury.
Rovers led 12-0 – thanks to tries by Moore and Cooke and the first two of Paul Sykes’ seven goals – before Kyle Trout crashed over from a pass by Lilley.
Ian Hardman and Cooke increased Featherstone’s tally, but Andy Kain crossed against his old club on the stroke of half-time.
A brilliant finish by Watson cut the gap further at the start of the second half and Hawks went agonisingly close when Kain kicked over the line to Richie Barnett.
He couldn’t make the catch, Rovers caught Hunslet napping with a quick tap and Will Sharp went in at the other end, so rather than Hawks being 24-20 down with a kick to come, the hosts were 30-16 adrift.
Rovers seemed to have made the points safe when Sharp added a second from Remy Marginet’s kick with 16 left, but Jack Lee dummied over and then Vinny Finigan crossed from Matty Gee’s smart pass.
Alex Foster’s try settled it, but Hawks finished strongly through Lee’s second try and a fifth goal from Lilley.
Hawks coach Barry Eaton said: “I thought we had toughness, heart and quality to come from 24-6 down and give ourselves a real opportunity in the second half.”
His opposite number Andy Hay reflected: “Cookey was running the show before we went off.
“That’s why we brought him in. It was his first game for a while and he proved what he’ll do for us for the rest of the year.”
Hunslet Hawks: Watson, Barnett, Maun, Mvududu, Finigan, Kain, Lilley, Haley, Lee, Houston, Martin, Backhouse, Mulhern. Subs Flanagan, Lyons, Trout, Gee.
Featherstone Rovers: Hardman, Sharp, Sykes, Minns, Hitchcock, Cooke, Moore, Baldwinson, Ellis, Verlinden, Cording, Maitua, Spears. Subs Marginet, Cooper, Ormondroyd, Foster.
Referee: Gareth Hewer (Whitehaven).
Bradford went top of the Kingstone Press Championship for the first time with a 34-16 win over Batley at the Provident Stadium.
The Bulldogs threatened an upset when winger Alex Brown opened the scoring but centre Adam Henry went over twice and Bradford added other tries through Jay Pitts and James Mendeika before half-time, when they led 20-10.
Batley were still in the contest when former Bradford winger Shaun Ainscough was sent off on 65 minutes and the Bulls took advantage of the extra man with Danny Williams, Matty Blythe and Ryan Shaw adding further tries to clinch a 17th consecutive league win that takes them two points ahead of Leigh, who were in Challenge Cup action this weekend.
Batley’s other scores came from Wayne Reittie and Alex Rowe.
Whitehaven ran in nine tries in a 50-18 victory at the Keepmoat Stadium as they condemned hosts Doncaster to a 23rd successive defeat.
Scott McAvoy touched down twice before half-time and Dave Allen, Grant Gore, Chris Taylor, Jessie-Joe Parker, Jordan Sigismeau, Ben Davies and Dion Aiye got the others, with Louis Jouffret kicking seven goals.
Doncaster responded with second-half scores from Paul Mennell, Jansin Turgut and Kyle Kesik, with Dave Scott adding the extras with the boot.
Halifax ran in eight tries as they beat London Broncos 46-22 to record a fifth successive Kingstone Press Championship victory.
The game was more or less over as a contest by half-time as tries from Dane Manning, Ben Kaye, Ben Johnston, Steve Tyrer and James Saltonstall gave Halifax a 30-6 lead at Cougar Park.
The Broncos, who took an early lead through Rhys Williams’ second-minute try, regrouped after the interval and restored some pride when Williams crossed the whitewash again and Oscar Thomas and Wes Naiqama also touched down.
But Halifax were not to be denied a fifth successive win, which strengthened their grip on fourth place..
And a second-half brace of tries from Ross Divorty and another score by Mitch Cahalane added gloss to a comprehensive victory.