Doncaster RLFC 6 Featherstone Rovers 13: Dons take positives from defeat

The Dons  on the attack against Featherstone
The Dons on the attack against Featherstone

The Dons are still looking to get off the mark in this season’s Kingstone Press Championship after suffering a second defeat in as many starts.

But they will have taken a lot of positives from the 13-6 defeat against last season’s runners-up Featherstone Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium in a game which was still in the balance until a late drop goal by Frenchman Remy Marginet.

Player-coach Paul Cooke, a deserved winner of the Dons’ man-of-the-match award, had stressed the need for a better start to the game than the one which saw his side trail 20-0 after as many minutes at London Broncos in their opener, and he got the response he was looking for.

The Dons took the lead on nine minutes when centre Danny Cowling took advantage of some hesitancy in the Featherstone defence to touch down from Cooke’s grubber kick.

It proved to be the only try of a keenly-contested first half which saw defences on top for long periods.

Rovers, who had beaten Hunslet Hawks on Monday, came more into the game but whatever tactics they tried they general got little joy out of the resolute Doncaster defence.

The introduction of half-back Marginet served to give the Featherstone attack more variation, but it still took the visitors until the half-hour mark to mount their first spell of pressure on the Doncaster line.

The Dons returned to the attack for the first time since the first quarter towards the intrerval only to see a promising move break down about ten metres out when full-back Dave Scott - keen to impress against his former club and did so with several good runs out of defence - fumbled the ball after linking up out wide.

Rovers opened their account within four minutes of the restart, centre Nathan Chappell touching down from full-back Jy Hitchcock’s grubber kick.

Rovers, who had elected to run a kickable penalty seconds earlier went for goal on 48 minutes with stand-off Paul Sykes edging his side into a 6-4 lead.

Stu Sanderson rewarded Doncaster’s first real spell of pressure this half when levelling the scores with a close-range 58th minute penalty.

With Cooke leading from the front, the Dons had a good spell on attack just after the hour mark without being able to add to their account.

Rovers regained the lead on 71 minutes, second-rower Dan Ryan touching down for a converted try after Australian Hitchcock had made a diagonal run past several defenders to create the opening.

Dons: Scott, Doherty, Michaels, Cowling, Sanderson, Cooke, Rankin, Carbutt, Cunningham, Paleaaesina, Snitch, Dunn, Emmett. Rep: Spiers, Clark, Waterman, Howarth.

Rovers: Hitchcock, Sharp, Chappell,Cording, Blackmore, Sykes, Irwin, Baldwinson, Ellis, Wood, Foster, Ryan, Lockwood. Rep: Spears, James, Bostock, Marginet.