Preview: Barrow Raiders v Doncaster

Shaun Leaf is a fitness doubt for the trip to Barrow.
Shaun Leaf is a fitness doubt for the trip to Barrow.

Paul Cooke believes his side have exceeded their own expectations during the first half of the season - but he’s not getting carried away.

The Dons’ hopes of another Championship play-off spot are well and truly alive as the side sit in third following their comeback victory over Swinton Lions last weekend.

Cooke’s men will be looking to continue their strong start to their 2014 campaign when they head to lowly Barrow on Sunday.

“We thought we’d be in and around fifth spot, but we’ve probably exceeded our own expectations as well as those of others,” said Dons’ player-coach Cooke.

“But we are where we are on merit and what we have got to do now is to manage those expectations and keep our feet firmly on the ground and try and finish the second half of the season in a similar vein to the first.

“We’ve got a tough run of away games coming up before we entertain Whitehaven and if we are still in or around the top four at the end of the month we will have given ourselves every opportunity of staying there.

“Not least because seven of our last ten games are at home which gives us the chance to build some momentum.

“As I say, the games at Barrow, Featherstone and Dewsbury are going to be tough, but we are not going into any of the games just to make the numbers up.

“We know, as a result of what has happened so far, that if we play well we’ll win games. It’s about us; not the opposition.

“We are not good enough to win games if we don’t turn up. But if we get it right then we’ll be in with a chance of winning any game.

“We certainly know that we’ve got to play well to get a result at Barrow. We were lucky to beat them at home last month and had that game being last Sunday we probably would have lost it.

“They have probably learned to get over the line in winning positions in tight games as they showed on Sunday against Rochdale when they took a healthy lead only to be pegged back to 26-18 before going on to win the game 38-18.

“I think that they will believe that they were hard done to at the Keepmoat, and that they probably owe us one.

“It’s going to be difficult this week, no doubt about that and we are going to have to be very good to get a result.

“If we can pick up a win it will make it seven points from nine in our three trips to Cumbria this season and you’d take that every time.”