Paul Cooke has called for his side to show their resilience against Whitehaven following their ‘most disappointing performance of the season’.
The Dons player-coach admitted they were not up to scratch last weekend as bogey side Dewsbury Rams raided the visitors, clinching a 24-8 success in West Yorkshire.
And Cooke has warned that a similar display would not be tolerated on Sunday for the welcoming of Whitehaven to Castle Park.
“We said before the game how good a side they are. But we looked a bit weary and our levels of skill were not up to standard,” he said.
He went on: “Whitehaven may not have the best away record in the league, but they have beaten us at at home so they know how to beat us. If we don’t play well at the weekend then we won’t get the result.
“Fortunately we’ve been very good at bouncing back from poor performances this season, and not suffering two or three back-to-back defeats, and hopefully that will be the case on Sunday.
“We’ve spoken about the Dewsbury game, where we went wrong on the day, and how we respond to it.
“If we get a positive response then we’ll be well in with a chance on Sunday. If we don’t, then Whitehaven will roll us over.
“We didn’t play particularly well up there and we were 24-0 down just before half-time. But we managed to get back into the game in the second half and pinch a losing bonus point.
“They are a decent side. They’ve got some good individual players and they throw the ball about and play some good stuff.”
Cooke, who could be facing a race against time to play after suffering a knock to his leg at Dewsbury, is unlikely to over-react by ringing the changes.
But he is expected to be without Liam Watts - who scored the club’s consolation try at the Tetley’s Stadium and who only played following a passport problem which ruled him out of Hull FC’s Super League game in France.
Prop Russ Spiers (concussion) is a big doubt and both Mark Castle and Mike Emmett will again be missing.
Although happy to be fourth in the table almost two-thirds way through the league campaign, Cooke insists he is not about to rest on his laurels.
He added: “We may be well clear of the tenth-placed club but if we don’t win enough of our last ten games we could still be relegated.”