Doncaster RLFC discover opponents as countdown to play-off final continues

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Doncaster RLFC will face surprise package North Wales Crusaders in Sunday’s Betfred League One promotion play-off final at the Eco-Power Stadium (3pm).

Crusaders, who only just scraped into the play-offs, upset the odds when beating a Hunslet side, showing a number of enforced changes to the side beaten 26-14 by the Dons seven days earlier, 25-18 at the South Leeds Stadium.

After finishing the regular season in second place and going into the play-offs on the back of eight wins from their previous nine games, Hunslet suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time this season against a Crusaders side who will go into Sunday’s final in a confident frame of mind following three wins on the road.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Dons boss Richard Horne had been expecting a return against Hunslet this weekend but will not underestimate a Crusaders side which has won away at Workington, Oldham and Hunslet.

Mahe Founa scores against Hunslet. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX.comMahe Founa scores against Hunslet. Picture: Howard Roe/
Mahe Founa scores against Hunslet. Picture: Howard Roe/

“I expected Hunslet, who have proved a really gritty team who can grind sides down, to prove too strong for Crusaders though I knew that they had picked up a couple of injuries and that could affect the balance of their team,” he said.

Crusaders only played the odd game at their Colwyn Bay home ground this season and beat the Dons 28-22 in a game switched to Chester RUFC at the start of last month.

They lost 30-16 at the Eco-Power Stadium back in March in a game which was still in the balance at the start of the final quarter.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Their big forwards proved a handful for the Dons on that occasion, as they did in Sunday’s win over Hunslet, but a hat-trick of close range tries by skipper Sam Smeaton helped secure his side their biggest win of the season at that point.

Said Smeaton: “We’ve lost in the last two play-off finals but going into Sunday’s game it feels slightly different.

“We had to work hard to secure home advantage in a final for the first time and we are hoping to capitalise but having home advantage doesn’t necessarily mean that we are going to win the game. We still have to play well on the day.

“Like any side in a final, we’ll need to avoid injuries to key players because that can disrupt you and we’ll need a bit of luck. But if you play well you generally make your own luck.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Smeaton joined the rest of his teammates as Horne called in his squad for an extra training session on Sunday.

“We didn’t give the players any time off last week and trained as usual, as we will do this week, so that they are good to go in the final,” said Horne.

*To buy tickets for Sunday’s final click HERE.

*London Skolars, who finished bottom of the Betfred League One after losing all their games, have withdrawn from the league.