Rochdale 16 Doncaster 22: Dons do the double over Hornets

Dons' Tom Hodson goes airborne to evade the attempted tackle of Shaun Robinson to score.
Dons' Tom Hodson goes airborne to evade the attempted tackle of Shaun Robinson to score.

High-flying Doncaster avoided being blown off course at blustery Spotland.

But fourth-placed Dons were made to work hard by a Rochdale side whose relegation was confirmed last week.

Hornets opened the scoring on 15 minutes, when a team-mate collected a crossfield kick by stand-off Paul Crooke and fed hooker Lewis Sheridan side-stepped past two defenders on a 15-metre run to the line for a converted try.

Defences had been generally on top with both sides often relying on putting boot to ball to gain yardage.

Rochdale full-back Wayne English booted the ball out of play in the nick of time to deny winger Tom Hodson a try from Paul Cooke’s neat grubber kick.

The visitors, who were made to work hard for their first half points, drew level on the half-hour, Cooke putting second-rower Steve Snitch into space just inside the Rochdale 20 and the former Super League star raced over near enough for Stu Sanderson to convert.

Hooker Scott Spaven forced his way over from close range but was unable to ground the ball due to the attention of several defenders.

It merely proved a stay of execution for the home side, however, and Hodson rewarded some exciting handling when diving over in the corner on the stroke of half-time – Rochdale claims of a forward pass in the move falling on deaf ears.

Sanderson judged the wind to perfection with the resulting touchline conversion to earn his side a 12-6 lead.

It was the turn of the Doncaster fans, many in fancy dress, to question a decision when Mark Castle was adjudged to have being held up over the line.

Hornets cut the deficit to two points on 48 minutes with a try in the corner by centre Stuart Littler following a strong break by Sheridan.

The Dons were made to dig deep as Hornets laid siege to their line and they breathed a collective sigh of relief when loose-forward Joe Greenwood was held up.

The visitors gave themselves much-needed extra breathing space on the hour as Sanderson dived over in the corner from Miller’s long pass.

Sanderson failed to add the extras but did so four minutes later after Snitch had crossed from close range to make it 22-10.

Crook set-up an exciting finale with a late converted try, but the Dons held out to claim the double.