Dons boss Richard Horne reacts to victory over Rochdale Hornets

Doncaster RLFC head coach Richard Horne’s demeaner at the end of the club’s 42-20 Betfred League One win over Rochdale Hornets at the Eco-Power Stadium was in stark contrast to that at the interval.
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“It was a game of two halves,” said Horne. “Our inability to complete our sets in the first half put us under so much pressure defensively - which is not want you want on such a hot and humid day. That it took it’s toll on our energy levels when we had the ball.

“Because they have a lot of loan players they aren’t as connected as a group, but individually they’ve got players who can cause you problems and that’s what happened in the first half during which they caught us out on two kick plays and they were probably good value for their 16-6 interval lead.

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“They played well in the first half and you’ve got to give them credit for that. They were able to get players in and slow the ruck down and we didn’t get any ruck tempo.

Richard Horne, centreRichard Horne, centre
Richard Horne, centre

“Words were said in the dressing room at half time - including the fact that we needed to get to the end of our sets because if we do that we’ll get opportunities and the halves are good enough to capitalise - and we got the right response.

“The players themselves knew what was going wrong and that they needed to play better in the second half and we did.

“We got the start to the second half that we were looking for with those couple of early tries and they hardly had any field position in the first 15 minutes.

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“The halves ran with the ball much better and controlled the game in the second half, whereas we’d tried to force everything and score in every set in the first half and we made too many handling errors in the process.”

Skipper Sam Smeaton bagged another hat-trick to maintain his place among the division’s top scorers.

Fellow forward Matt James also caught the eye touching down and also setting up a try for Ben Johnston.

“He was fantastic,” said Horne. “He did what we asked our middles to do and that was to carry strongly and get us on the front foot,” said Horne, who had on-loan Josh Guzdek on debut at full-back standing in for the injured Elliott Hall.

“He only had two sessions with us last week and he’s been playing centre a fair bit and it takes time to adjust as full-back is a specialist position,” said Horne.