Richard Horne salutes Doncaster RLFC's defensive display in play-off final win

Doncaster RLFC head coach Richard Horne will start preparing for life back in the Betfred Championship this week after his charges made it a case of third-time lucky when beating North Wales Crusaders 18-6 in their Betfred League One play-off final at the Eco-Power Stadium.
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“It’s nice to win my first trophy (at this level) as a coach; it would have been hard to take had we lost again in the final,” said Horne.

“But I’m more pleased for the boys because they have been a really great bunch to work with and they have worked really hard all season.

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“We set our sights on top spot but a couple of setbacks cost us the chance of the title. However, we bounced back and won promotion through the play-offs.”

Loui McConnell breaks through to score. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX.comLoui McConnell breaks through to score. Picture: Howard Roe/
Loui McConnell breaks through to score. Picture: Howard Roe/

Although delighted with the result after seeing the Dons beaten in successive finals, Horne felt that his players made hard work of beating the Welsh side.

“We looked really nervous at times and I don’t think we really got going offensively and we didn’t throw much at them,” he said.

“But we defended really well and the only try they scored came from a kick.

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“We spoke before the game about applying pressure and working their middles over but it wasn’t working and we asked them to adapt and move (the ball about) and maybe drop some angles but they didn’t. Our discipline also hurt us and it was something like a 10-3 penalty count in their favour.

“Although we led 8-0 at the break I think we only had something like two good ball sets (in their 20) and only six in the full game. When we got down there we punished them but we weren’t down there enough.

“We couldn’t pull away from them in the first hour though we were held up over the line on several occasions. Credit to them they scrambled well and worked hard as we knew they would but they never looked like winning the game."

The game marked the last appearance for both prop Albert Vete and centre Mahe Fonua who have shone in recent weeks.

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“Mahe’s a special player and he’s done a great job for us in the time he’s been here,” said Horne. “We’d love to have kept him but he’s going back home.”

His fellow Hull FC and Castleford team-mate Bureta Faraimo played his first and last game for the club.

“He has been training with us but we told him the only way he’d make the team was if there were some injuries and when Misi Taulapapa pulled out on Wednesday with a suspected hairline fracture of his leg he got his chance.”