DONCASTER lost hold on top spot in Championship One following their 45-18 defeat against third-placed Workington Town, who produced their best performance of the season, at Derwent Park.
Barrow, who have a game in hand, took over pole position after beating London Skolars.
Town, who also have a game in hand, remain third, a point behind the Keepmoat club.
The Dons survived early Town pressure to race into an 18-0 lead in the first quarter with tries by winger Stu Sanderson, full-back Mick Butterfield and centre Lee Waterman, all goaled from touch by winger Tom Hodson and looked to be on course for a resounding victory in a game some people were describing as a potential title decider.
“I was delighted with how we started the game and we had chances to be even further ahead at that stage,” said Dons’ boss Tony Miller.
“We let them back into the game in the second quarter and even though we came in leading 18-14 they had the momentum.
“We spoke at half-time about how important the next try would be. I felt that if we scored first it would lift our spirits again. They had a lot of pressure early on but we defended well until they scored, but our defensive effort took it out of us and we had nothing left in the tank late on.
“They got on a roll after they had drawn level and it’s difficult to stop a side as good as Workington when that happens.
“I said it would be our toughest league game so far and so it proved.
“They kept the ball alive and run some good angles and I thought Jamie Thackery was outstanding.
“We were a bit disrupted by injuries in the second half and we only had 12 men in the last few minutes, but that is no excuse. They played for the full 80 minutes and give them credit for that.
“I don’t think the score line reflected the game but I’ve no complaints about the result.”
Centre Dan Cowling, who suffered a compound fracture and dislocated finger, was taken to hospital after the game and didn’t travel back with the team.
He faces up to 12 weeks on the sidelines.