Doncaster RLFC: Cooke praises Dons’ derby spirit

Dons players applaud their travelling fans after the derby win at Owlerton
Dons players applaud their travelling fans after the derby win at Owlerton
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Player-coach Paul Cooke has praised the team spirit that saw Doncaster fight back to beat Sheffield Eagles in the South Yorkshire derby.

The Dons, after having a man sin-binned, trailed 28-12 at half-time but battled back to win 42-34.

The victory kept their grip on their place in the Championship and is a boost ahead of the trip to Warrington Wolves in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup.

“The group of players are first class,” said Cooke. “Right now we are a really tight-knit group and you can see that when we go out there and are tough to beat at times.”

He added: “We spoke a lot at half-time about not panicking, it was only three scores down and there was a ten-minute period where we saw no ball and had a man sin-binned and everything conspired to go against us.

“We spoke of digging in there and when we got an even share (of the ball) we’d be able to post some points and it was proven.

“On the stats in the second half we had 100 per cent completions and scored well-worked tries in areas where we knew we would get Sheffield.”

Cooke in his first season as player-coach is working with a small squad boosted by loan players and paid tribute to the spirit in the team.

He added: “Getting Mark Castle back was massive, we’ve moved Craig Robinson from the back row and he comes up with quality performances. We are coming up with some really special plays.”

Cooke had a big influence as the Dons out-scored the Championship title-holders by five tries to one on the second 40 minutes.