Kieran Gill and Quentin Laulu-Togagae gave the Thunder an early 10-0 lead before Michael Knowles pulled a try back. The two sides traded scores twice more before half-time, Ashley Gibson and Bob Beswick keeping Newcastle 20-18 ahead despite the efforts of Paul Sykes and Connor Scott.
Adam Lawton and Mikey Wood put Newcastle 30-18 up just after the hour mark but the Rams, who had beaten Whitehaven 22-16 on Wednesday to reach this stage, levelled with eight minutes remaining as Martyn Reilly and Will Oakes crossed and Sykes added his fourth and fifth conversions. Alex Clegg’s try proved decisive, with Newcastle half-back Reece Dean slotting his third conversion and adding a last-minute penalty.
Nick Rawsthorne’s injury-time try saw Hull KR avoid a shock with a 22-19 win over battling Leigh.
The Championship outfit led 19-18 at the hooter but Rawsthorne won it for the home side as he went over in the corner. Scrum-half Mikey Lewis converted three of Rovers’ four tries, while Kane Linnett got his first try of the season to cap a fine performance from the second row. Leigh had led 12-0 through tries by Adam Higson and Ben Hellewell but three tries in eight minutes from Linnett, Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Will Dagger put the Super League side in front by half-time. Liam Hood’s try tied the game at 18-18 and Josh Woods kicked a drop goal to edge Leigh back in front, but Rawsthorne touched down to seal a dramatic win.
Matty Marsh scored four tries and Jason Bass three as York enjoyed the most emphatic win, 70-12 over Rochdale. Widnes beat Swinton 32-16 with tries from Jake Spedding, Jack Johnson, Kenny Baker, MacGraff Leuluai, Deon Cross and Joe Lyons. Mike Butt scored two tries and Lewis Hatton one for the Hornets.
Joel Farrell and Corey Makelim scored two tries apiece as Sheffield Eagles beat Workington 34-18. Ryan Millar, Oliver Davies and Izaac Farrell scored Sheffield’s other tries while Carl Forber, Fuifui Moimoi and Blain Marwood crossed for Workington.