Match report: Whitehaven 41 Dons 16

Danny Nicklas

Danny Nicklas

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It proved to be a blank holiday weekend for the Dons, beaten 41-16 by fellow strugglers Whitehaven at the Recreation Ground.

The Dons had travelled to Cumbria the previous day to give themselves the best possible chance of claiming their first league win of the season - something which would have seen them exchange places with their hosts.

But Whitehaven’s second home win of the season leaves Paul Cooke’s side four points adrift at the foot of the table ahead of Sunday’s home game against bogey side Dewsbury.

The result was a crushing body-blow for the Dons who had looked to have turned the corner after much-improved displays against Batley and Sheffield Eagles.

Cooke had also added to his squad with the signing of former England winger Peter Fox and utility-back Dan Reynolds, who joined from Championship leaders Leigh on an initial month’s loan.

Both men celebrated their debuts with second-half tries, as the Dons closed to 30-16, but they always looked like being consolation affairs.

The Dons got off to the worst possible start as Whitehaven, who had conceded 100 points without reply in their previous two games, scored twice in the opening minutes to lead 12-0.

Scrum-half Danny Nicklas, who resumed his half-back partnership with Paul Cooke after a 12 month lay-off, scored from close range on 14 minutes near enough for Dave Scott to convert.

But that is as close at the visitors got as the Cumbrians raced into a 24-6 interval lead.

Whitehaven: Lerori; Chamberlain, Parker, Bannister, Calvert; Aiye, Brocklebank; Davies, Coyle,Chaplow, Lloyd, McAvoy, Allen. Subs: Hepi, Brooks, Newton, S Fox.

Dons: Scott; Doherty, Welham, Waterman, Fox; Cooke, Nicklas; Carbutt, Kesik, Tyson-Wilson, Turgat, Snitch, Emmett. Subs: Reynolds, Dunn, Clark, Waller.