Richard Horne reacts to Doncaster's semi-final win over Rochdale Hornets

Few people, including Doncaster RLFC head coach Richard Horne, would have predicted a 52-20 scoreline ahead of Sunday’s Betfred League One play-off semi-final against visiting Rochdale Hornets at the Eco-Power Stadium – even more so when they only led by eight points at the break.
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“It was a tough first half with both teams going set to set and both completing high around the 80 per cent mark,” reflected Horne.

“It was a lot more composed performance than against Swinton the previous week,.

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“The emphasis during the build-up had been on finishing our sets well and on our terms on the back of a good kicking game because if you do that you put teams under pressure. We did that very well today just as Swinton did to us last week

Richard Horne, centre. Picture by Howard Roe/AHPIX.comRichard Horne, centre. Picture by Howard Roe/
Richard Horne, centre. Picture by Howard Roe/

“We also spoke about the fact that we would need to show some resolve and desperation at times in defence because things are going to go wrong and people are going to make mistakes and when that happens players have to be prepared to put in the work to prevent tries. I thought we did that well in the first half.

“We knew that Rochdale had some quality players in their ranks and that they can hurt you if you give them good field position – as they showed in the last 20 minutes or so when they scored three tries.

“Having said that, we probably switched off a bit with the game won at that stage although the players would never admit to that.

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“As I say, it was a close game in the first half and we needed to be dogged in defence, which we were, and take our chances, which we did, and I felt that we were good value for our eight-point lead.

“I also thought that we had made them do a lot of work so even though the game was still tight we were confident during the break.

“But we also knew that the game was far from won and that that they were capable of coming back in the second half and that was something we focused during the interval.

“The fact that we scored first in the second half - and scored some good tries after that - gave us a bit more breathing space, but it wasn’t something that we had talked about at half time.

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He added: “Everyone could be pleased with their efforts which will make team selection for the final very tough. I was also pleased that we came through the game without picking up any injuries and will go into Sunday’s game with a healthy group of players.”