High-flying Doncaster finally emerged unscathed from the Lions’ den in yesterday’s Championship clash against lowly Swinton at the Leigh Sports Village.
But for nearly an hour they were second-best against a Swinton side whose performance belied the fact that they had not won in the league since April.
There were certainly a few worried expressions on the faces of the Dons coaching staff when Swinton led 22-12 early in the second half.
Dons’ half-backs Paul Cooke and Richard Wilkinson, outstanding behind a dominant pack against Rochdale a week earlier, struggled to match the influence of their Swinton counterparts Ian Watson and Gareth O’Brien.
Although pleased to have picked up a first win on the road in three games, Dons’ boss Cooke knows his side will have to play much better to take the spoils in their next three back-to-back away games.
Cooke had been looking for his side to stamp their authority on the game early on, but they trailed 6-0 after just two minutes, full-back Chris Atkin racing over 80 metres to score a converted try after the Dons failed to gather a high kick by Cooke
The Dons hit back on seven minutes, Cooke putting prop Craig Robinson over from close range for a try goaled by Dave Scott.
Watson showed his experience when scoring a neat individual try to help earn his side a 12-6 lead on 17 minutes which could easily have been more but for Tom Hodson.
The Dons drew level against the run of play, hooker Kyle Kesik going over from close range for a try goaled by Dave Scott.
Ritchie Hawkyard rounded off a slick handling move to earn his side a four-point interval lead, which they extended to ten within five minutes of the restart.
But despite going close on several occasions that was as good as it got as the Dons scored 24 unanswered points.
Hodson displayed blistering pace to beat Hawkyard to Cooke’s astute 25 metre grubber kick on 53 minutes. Scott’s conversion cut the deficit to four points. Recent signing Steve Snitch crossed on 64 minutes with Hodson and Robinson both completing a brace
Dons: Scott, Morrison, Leaf, Welham, Hodson, Cooke,Wilkinson, Carbutt, Kesik, Robinson, Kent, Starling,Emmett. Subs: Spaven, Castle, Spiers, Snitch.
Referee: Adam Gill