JUSTICE was done in yesterday’s Co-operative Championship One Grand Final at the Halliwell Jones Stadium when Doncaster, who finished top of the league, beat runners-up Barrow Raiders in a thrilling final.
It was the club’s first title in their 61-year history and how the Doncaster fans celebrated at the final whistle, with scrum-half Craig Fawcett winning the man-of-the-match award.
To a man, the Dons were outstanding in defence, as they had to be to contain the impressive Cumbrians for whom skipper Liam Harrison, full-back Andy Ballard and both half-backs shone.
Barrow grabbed an early lead with a try by centre Chris Larkin after Ballard had made the extra man.
The Dons drew level when winger Stu Sanderson conjured up a try out of nothing.
Both sides had tries disallowed for forward passes in quick succession.
Lucas Walshaw produced a try-saving tackle before Ballard kicked Barrow into a 6-4 25th minute lead and they led 7-4 at the interval.
The Dons rode their luck and took the lead six minutes after the re-start. Second-rower Walshaw ran strongly before making a superb off-load out of the tackle to send full-back Lee Waterman racing in for his 35th try of the season.
Hodson, playing his last game for the club before joining Featherstone, added the simple conversion to make it 10-7.
The Dons came under further pressure and their defensive qualities were severely tested.
But they weathered the storm and Fawcett went over for his side’s second converted try on the hour to make it 16-7. The Dons started the last quarter in the driving seat but Barrow were far from beaten and only committed defending denied them a second try.
Barrow’s efforts were finally rewarded when centre Aaron Low went over in the corner in stoppage time and Ballard added the touchline conversion but that was as close as the Cumbrians got and the Dons finished the game on the attack.
Dons: Waterman, Hodson, Spurr, Cowling Sanderson Kesik, Fawcett Castle Emmett Spiers Kelly Walshaw, Hughes. Subs: Powley, Robinson, Edwards, Cunningham.
Barrow: Ballard, Haney, Larkin, Low, Nixon, Kaighton, Campbell. Butler, Dandy, Duffy, Harrison, Gordon, Toal. Subs: Finch, Ostler, McGoff, Dawson.