They say a week is a long-time in politics – it certainly is in rugby league on the evidence of Doncaster’s 34-10 home defeat to Batley Bulldogs.
A week after exchanging places with third-placed Halifax after routing them at the Keepmoat Stadium, the Dons suffered their biggest home defeat in their last league game of the season.
A day which had started with them dreaming of pipping Featherstone Rovers for second spot and the £450,000 prize money, ended with Paul Cooke’s men back down in fourth spot.
It proved to be Batley’s day because not only did they win their battle against relegation, with other results going for them they also booked their place in the forthcoming play-offs.
There was no doubting their superiority in all aspects of the game. Given that only a win would guarantee their safety, it perhaps wasn’t surprising that they wanted it more.
Bulldogs took a 6-0 lead in the third minute, winger Wayne Rettie beating Stu Sanderson to Ben Black’s high kick to the corner to touch down for a try converted by Scott Leatherbarrow.
It took the home side until the 15th minute to mount any real pressure but Batley extended their lead to 12-0 with a long-range try.
Tom Hodson raised hopes when he weaved his way past two defenders from a long pass to score a 22nd minute try, goaled by Sanderson.
But the Dons’ joy was short-lived as Batley opened up an 18-6 interval lead on 35 minutes, Ben Black intercepting Cooke’s pass deep in his own half to help set up the position from which centre Ayden Faal touched down from close range.
Doncaster made the early running after the break and a better pass to Castle close to the line would almost certainly have produced a try.
Lee Waterman looked to have thrown the Dons a lifeline with an unconverted try in the 54th minute to cut the deficit to eight points.
But that is as close as it got and Batley finished strongly to come home with plenty to spare.
Dons: Scott, Hodson, Leaf, Cunningham, Sanderson, Cooke, Wilkinson, Carbutt, Spaven, Robinson, Snitch, Colbon, Emmett. Subs: Castle, Waterman, Kelly, Spiers.