Gutsy Dons beaten in Cup opener

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THE Dons hopes of getting their Northern Rail Cup campaign off to a winning start in last night’s Pool A game at the Big Fellas Stadium were derailed by Featherstone Rovers.

Last season’s Championship runners-up ran in 11 tries on their way to a big win.

As for the Dons, who played a man short all second half, they did enough to suggest they are capable of improving on last season’s showing in the competition.

The Dons took the lead in the second minute when full-back Mick Butterfield collected a grubber kick by Featherstone stand-off Andy Kain on his own 20 metre line and left the cover for dead on his way to a spectacular long range try.

Rovers drew level on 12 minutes, Kain dropping his shoulder to wrong-foot the Doncaster defence and race into space just inside their 20 metre zone. Star scrum-half Liam Finn added the extras.

Finn then put former Doncaster forward Tony Tonks over from close range on 15 minutes.

Rover were in again a couple of minutes later - Kain sending young centre Sam Smeaton racing in for an unconverted try to make it 16-4.

Three tries in six minutes had changed the complexion of the game and Rovers were firmly in the driving seat.

Rovers rode their luck and added to their tally on 35 minutes when Finn forced his way over from close range for a try he also converted to make it 22-4.

The Dons suffered another blow just before the break when losing Butterfield, injured when making a try-saving tackle on the line.

Worse was to follow as Kyle Kesik was sent-off, for rushing in and throwing a punch following a flare-up from a play-the-ball, which also saw Chris Spurr (Dons) and Tim Spears (Rovers) sin-binned.

Rovers, who had the benefit of the slope, wasted no time in capitalising on their extra man on the restart, Smeatongoing over for his second try within the first minute,

Hardman and Kain crossed early in the second period to make it 36-4.

There could have been a second Doncaster try on the hour had winger Stu Sanderson been able to keep his feet after kicking ahead,

Rovers added their eighth try shortly after, winger Tommy Saxton going over out wide, Bostock kept the scoreboard ticking over with a try in the other corner.

Mike Emmett forced his way over from close range on 68 minutes before Zak Hardaker showed good pace on his way to claiming Rovers’ tenth try, goaled by Finn. Smeaton completed the scoring late on.