Dons boss looks back with pride

The Dons attack against Eagles
The Dons attack against Eagles

The Dons’ hopes of contesting the latter stages of the Championship play-offs, were dashed as Sheffield Eagles soared to a 58-24 quarter-final win at the Keepmoat Stadium.

The game was effectively over as a contest at half-time as the 12-man Dons, who had Liam Cunningham sent-off after 26 minutes, trailed by 36-6.

It was the second successive season that the Dons had crashed out of the play-offs without winning a game.

Player-coach Paul Cooke, who admitted the result was disappointing, took defeat on the chin and didn’t look for any excuses.

“Even when we had 13 players on the field we had been second best and when we went down to 12 men we were obviously up against it and they showed that they are a quality team,” he said.

Cooke didn’t try to defend Cunningham’s actions in the incident which led to his dismissal, but argued: “He’s not that type of player.”

Although the Dons ended the season with three consecutive defeats as injuries mounted, Cooke said he would look back on the campaign with pride.

“We finished in the top four, deservedly so, and I can’t praise the players enough,” he said.

“I thought we were pretty outstanding at the start of the game and we played with plenty of tempo,” said Eagles’ boss Mark Aston, whose side now visit Featherstone.

“The sending off did have an effect on them but I think we were well in control by then. “Our completion rate in the first half was 86 per cent and that’s why we made it easy for ourselves. It was 47 per cent in the second and that’s why it was a little bit harder.”