Dons’ desire pleases Cooke

The Dons run out for their first ever game at Castle Park.   Picture: Malcolm Billingham
The Dons run out for their first ever game at Castle Park. Picture: Malcolm Billingham
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Doncaster ground out a 22-16 win over visiting Whitehaven to boost their hopes a top-four Championship finish.

With several of their rivals tasting defeat, Paul Cooke’s men are now five points clear of fifth-placed Batley.

The first-ever rugby league game at Doncaster Knights’ impressive Castle Park complex attracted an above average crowd - although no official attendance was given.

However, Cooke did admit the switch of venues hadn’t helped the Dons’ cause on the pitch.

“Whitehaven are a good side and I think it was probably the best place for them to play us considering the fact that they haven’t been good at the Keepmoat Stadium in the last couple of years,” he said.

“Castle Park isn’t overly familiar to our players so it’s not really been a home game in that respect.

“But if we hadn’t been able to play here we’d have had to call the game off (because the pitch at the Keepmoat is not quite ready) and that would have meant them coming down here in midweek and us having to play three games in eight days.

“So we needed to get the game on. It wasn’t the best we’ve played this season but we needed to win today (following the defeat at Dewsbury).

“We needed to get back on the horse and right some wrongs and I thought the character and desire of the group was first class and in the end it shone through.”

Cooke is likely to need further treatment on his knee injury and will be checking on centre Liam Cunningham’s knee injury.