Doncaster gear up for League One play-off final against Swinton Lions

Doncaster RLFC will need to tame the Lions if they are to realise their dream of a long-awaited return to the Betfred Championship in Sunday’s League One play-off final at Heywood Road.
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Swinton, who led 22-0 at half-time, ran out 32-12 winners when the two sides met on the same ground a fortnight ago and will start favourites to make an immediate return to the second tier.

“They showed by finishing second in the table that they are a very good all-round side and we know we’ll have to be at our best to beat them at their place,” said Dons head coach Richard Horne.

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“They showed us how to play rugby on the day. They outplayed us and the better team won. But the players knew where they went wrong and we learned some lessons from that defeat and put them to good use in Sunday’s win over Rochdale.

Watson Boas scores against Rochdale. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX.comWatson Boas scores against Rochdale. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX.com
Watson Boas scores against Rochdale. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX.com

“Fortunately, we get a second bite of the cherry this weekend and hopefully we can go one better than last season when we lost up at Workington.

“I think this week’s game will be even tougher so it has been important to make sure that the boys are both recovered from the Rochdale game and mentally and physically ready to go again on Sunday.”

Whereas the Dons, who will have prop Keelan Foster available again after a one-match ban, have enjoyed a mainly injury-free run-in to the season, not so Swinton.

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“They were a bit busted when we played them but they had last weekend off and they’ve also got a couple of players back, so they’ll be stronger,” said Horne.

Sunday’s game will be the fourth meeting of the two sides this season with the Manchester-based club having won two of the previous three.

However, the Dons inflicted a rare home defeat (26-12) on the Lions in their return league match at Heywood Road in early August and Horne is confident his charges are good enough to repeat that success if they can build on their impressive 52-20 win over Rochdale.

“We were fluent in attack against Rochdale whereas we were clunky with the ball against Swinton and we know that we can play much better than we did on that day,” he said.

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“They always say you’ve got to lose a final before you win one so let’s hope that proves to be the case on Sunday and that we can give our fans, who we hope will travel in their numbers, something to cheer.”