Doncaster RLFC 16 Featherstone Rovers 28: Dons relegated but not disgraced after brave effort

Paul Mennell gets treatment for a painful injury
Paul Mennell gets treatment for a painful injury

Doncaster lost their long-running battle against relegation from the Championship following their 28-16 defeat against Featherstone Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium.

But they went down fighting against a Featherstone team who have proved hard to beat on the road this season in their Shield clash and were still in with a chance of a shock win midway through the second half.

The Dons got off to a flying start with leading try-scorer Peter Fox finishing off a bout of snappy handling when scoring out wide in the third minute.

Rovers hit back to claim a 6-4 lead with a close-range try by loose-forward Tim Spears, converted by Paul Sykes, three minutes later.

The home side regained the lead on 12 minutes – Matt Groat crashing over from close range after on-loan Featherstone prop Ryan Verlinden -who was clearly felt he had a point to prove - had been held just short from a determined charge.

Full-back Dave Scott, another man to have played for the visitors, tagged on the extras to give his side a 10-6 lead.

The Dons suffered a blow on 18 minutes when play-maker Paul Mennell, whose cries of pain could be heard in the stands, suffered a serious knee injury.

The home side, who produced their best first half performance of the season, repelled several Featherstone raids but couldn’t stop scrum-half Gareth Moore sending ex-Doncaster second-rower Steve Snitch over from close range just before the break.

Sykes again tagged on the conversion to earn his side a 12-10 interval lead.

Doncaster, continued to bely their lowly status and threatened the Featherstone line twice in as many minutes in the opening stages of the second half.

Centre Liam Welham, the pick of the Doncaster three-quarter line, was then held just short following a weaving run down the left after Simon Day had threatened at the other end.

But Rovers scored the all-important first try after the break – Matt James crashing over for a 54th minute converted try to make it 18-10.

Featherstone looked to try and finish the job and the home side had to dig deep for the rest of the third quarter.

A 67th minute try by centre Alex Foster saw Rovers open up 24-10 lead.

Scott capped an impressive display when he broke the line about 30 metres out and held off the cover to claim a 75th minute try he also converted.

Rovers winger Kyran Johnson completed the scoring with a 78th minute try.

Doncaster: Scott; Hodson, Doherty, Welham, Fox; McLocklan, Mennell; Groat, Kesik, Verlinden, Kelly, Musolino, Emmett. Subs: Spiers, Foster, Wright, Tagaloa.

Featherstone Rovers: Hardman; Johnson, Sykes, Foster, Sharp; Cooke,Moore; Baldwinson, Ellis, Bussey, Cording, Snitch, Spears. Subs: Day, James, Tagg, Ormonroyd.

Referee: Dave Merrick.

Attendance: 886