Dons promotion hopes dashed by Dale comeback

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DONCASTER’S hopes of a return to the Championship were dashed in yesterday’s Championship One quarter-final against Rochdale Hornets at Spotland.

The Dons raced into a commanding 18-4 lead midway through the first half, but the Hornets scored a second unconverted try on the stroke of half-time and scored 18 points without reply in the second half to claim a thrilling 26-18 win.

“I thought that we deserved better than an 18-8 interval lead,” said Dons’ boss Tony Miller,

“We set off well and we played an expansive game because we wanted to catch them on the fringes.

“It worked well until there was a torrential rain shower and we had to adapt our game-plan and we probably didn’t adapt as well as we could have done.”

As well as scoring three converted tries, after Rochdale had grabbed an early interception try, the Dons had a touchdown by centre Chris Spurr disallowed for a forward pass.

“I couldn’t see anything wrong with the try,” said Miller, who also argued that hooker Kyle Kesik had scored in the closing stages.

“The try they scored just before the break gave them a boost and they started the second half strongly but we defended well and then had the chance to score again but we took the wrong option.

“I thought that we started to look a bit edgy and nervous as they started to close the gap.

“They had a 10 to 15 minute spell when they got on a roll and we couldn’t stop their momentum and they scored a couple of tries.

“The game could have gone either way; it was that close. Both sides gave it their all and unfortunately we just came up short. They came back from 18-4 down and you’ve got to give them credit for that.”

Sheffield Eagles reached the semi-finals of the Championship play-offs with a 50-12 win over Halifax at Bramall Lane yesterday. They will travel to Leigh Centurions on Thursday for a game that will decide who goes to the Grand Final.