DONCASTER Rugby League Club became only the second team to beat Championship One leaders Barrow this season when successfully defending their 100 per cent home record.
Despite seeing an early 10-0 lead cancelled out, the Dons hit back to claim a thrilling 28-24 win to avenge an early-season 25-8 defeat at Craven Park.
Tony Miller’s side remain third but are now just two points off top spot now held by Workington Town on points difference from their Cumbrian rivals.
Town are the Dons next opponents on Thursday week at the Keepmoat.
“We needed to win today to keep our title hopes alive,” said Miller. “If we had lost I think it would have been over but we’ve still got a foot in the door.”
Barrow travelled back to Cumbria with a vital losing bonus point, but Miller didn’t dwell on it. “I’d have taken that score before the game,” he said.
Miller felt that the game lived up to its top billing, with the result in doubt throughout: “It was a cracker and it was one of the best games seen here for the last two or three years,” he enthused.
“We played really well but they are a good side and we couldn’t put them to bed; they kept coming back.”
“But I didn’t feel that the closeness of the score reflected the game. We scored more tries than them but we didn’t convert as many as they did.”
Stand-off Paul Cooke won the sponsors’ man-of-the-match award but Miller said he would have plumped for his half-back partner Craig Fawcett or loose-forward Mike Emmett. Miller also singled out prop Mark Castle’s contribution - particularly in the first 20 minutes.
Miller admitted that some of the gloss had been taken off the Dons’ win by young forward Fran Welsh suffering a suspected broken ankle in the first half.
Star full-back Mick Butterfield suffered a suspected broken hand, but played with it strapped up for most of the game.