Doncaster RLFC v Castleford Tigers: Cooke upbeat ahead of next friendly test

Paul Cooke
Paul Cooke
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Doncaster RLFC continue their pre-season build-up with a home game against 2014 Challenge Cup finalists Castleford on Sunday.

Head coach Paul Cooke expects Castleford - who were in the frame to finish top of Super League until the last month of the season - to field a stronger side than did Hull last weekend.

“I’ve no idea who will be playing (at this stage) but I would imagine that it will be a mixed side,” said Cooke.

Despite seeing his side suffer a 29-28 defeat against a talented young Hull FC side, Cooke was pleased with the exercise and did not criticise the team for spurning a late penalty which would have won them the game.

“I’m not down-hearted, in fact I’m upbeat and I’m looking forward to fixing the errors,” said Cooke.

“We’ve still got another three games and another four weeks before our first league game.

“The game showed the glaringly obvious areas we need to work on, particularly in defence. But there were also plenty of positives when you consider the age of the squad, particularly the two half-backs.

“A couple of the (young) back-rowers will also now be fully aware of the physicality of the league that they are about to step in to.

“We got out of the game what we needed to do. As I say, it showed up what we need to work on but we also showed good patience and some good shapes in attack and worried the opposition.

“We showed good determination to stick in there. Even at 16-0 down we felt that we could get back into the game and that proved to be the case.”

Cooke watched the game from the stands and may also sit out Sunday’s game.

He said: “I wanted to see how we react as a group when I’m not on the field – I’m not getting any younger – and we need to look at different players in different positions and look at different combinations to see if they will work or not and let the players build up an understanding.

“I can go in and slide in quite easily and dictate. It’s something I’ve done all my career.”

The club will be hoping for another good turn-out after attracting a gate of around the 2,000 mark last weekend.