Preview: Doncaster RLFC v Featherstone Rovers

Liam Cunningham faces a race to be fit for the Featherstone clash after suffering a groin injury against the Army. Picture: Rob Terrace.

Liam Cunningham faces a race to be fit for the Featherstone clash after suffering a groin injury against the Army. Picture: Rob Terrace.

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Paul Cooke thinks the Dons are underestimated when it comes to their place in the Championship reckoning – not that he minds in the least.

Despite winning three of their first four league matches, the Dons are likely to be heavily labelled the underdog when last season’s league leaders Featherstone visit this weekend, as they were when they travelled to Batley a fortnight ago.

Cooke is happy to accept the tag and says his squad use such labels as motivation to prove doubters wrong.

“The lads always have a look at the coupons to see what handicap is on the game,” Cooke said.

“When we played Batley a few weeks ago, we were given 16 points.

“Things like that motivate the lads. They get them fired up and ready to prove a point.

“People might think that we’re massive underdogs, and good luck to them. But we’ll be doing our best to prove them all wrong.

“We’re just going to go quietly about our business, being quietly confident about what we do.

“If we can take the opposition by surprise, then that’s great for us.”

Cooke will be hoping the Dons catch defending league winners Featherstone by surprise this weekend.

He said: “It’s going to be a very tough game but we go into it with plenty of confidence.

“We know we’ve still got plenty of work to do on both defence and attack but we’ve come a long way already.

“If we can be as resolute as we have been so far we’ll have a chance of getting a result.”

A quirk of the Dons’ results so far has in all five of their games so far seen the losing team finish with 12 points, bringing four wins for Cooke’s men.

Although he had not noticed the trend, Cooke admits he would be happy to see it continue.

He said: “If we can restrict the opposition to two tries more often than not we know we’re going to come away with something.

“You’re guaranteed a bonus point if you lose 12-0.

“You’re always going to have a chance if the opposition only scores two tries so we’re pleased with that.”

The Dons returned battered and bruised from their successful battle with the British Army in the Challenge Cup last weekend.

Liam Cunningham (groin), Danny Nicklas (knee), Russ Spiers (leg) and Alex Starling (elbow) were all nursing injuries that will be assessed right up until Sunday’s game.

Their 62-12 triumph booked a place in the fourth round where they will meet Hemel Stags at home on April 6.