Nobody was more disappointed as Workington Town put paid to the Dons’ promotion hopes than hooker Kyle Kesik.
“That’s the second time that we’ve lost in a play-off semi-final since we were relegated three years ago and it doesn’t get any easier to take,” said the club’s longest-serving player and former captain.
“We took a depleted side up to Barrow two years ago and were well beaten but I thought that we were better placed this time around and I would have felt confident going to Bradford this weekend.
“We would also have had a second bite of the cherry with the losers playing Swinton, who finished bottom of the Championship.
“But we didn’t deserve to win on Sunday because we didn’t turn up on the day like we did when we beat them in the league the previous week.
“They raised their game and ran harder and our skill level of recent weeks just wasn’t there.
“They also had the bounce of the ball which we had had last week.
“Without being at our best we opened up an early 8-0 lead then we started making errors, our kicking game was poor and we started giving away penalties and we came in 16-8 down.
“Although we went into the game on the back of a ten-match unbeaten run there was no complacency because we knew we were playing for a place in the final and that it would be tough.
“If we had played like we did the previous week it could have been different but they got the upper hand in and around the ruck – they were too quick - and once a side gets the momentum it’s hard to get it back.
“Having said that, I honestly thought that when we got it back to 28-18 12 minutes from time that we could score the two converted tries we needed to win the game at that stage but it wasn’t to be and they deserved to win.
“As I say, it’s tough to take and we’ll have to go again next season but it doesn’t get any easier and there will still be a lot of good teams up there challenging.
“We’ll get ourselves back up for it but it’s not where we as players want to be.
“We want to be playing in the Championship and had we gone up, and brought in a couple of new players, I’m confident that we would have been competitive in what looks like being a really good league again.”