Doncaster flattered to deceive as they suffered a 20-16 defeat at home to last season’s Championship One winners North Wales Crusaders in their final warm-up game.
Although player-coach Paul Cooke will not read too much into the result, certain aspects of the Dons’ performance will concern him ahead of Sunday’s Championship opener at Workington, as will injuries to Brett Waller (knee) and Lee Waterman (wrist).
The Dons took only four minutes to open their account, Mike Kelly going over for a try converted by Stewart Sanderson. Four minutes later, Liam Welham went over in the corner to make it 10-0.
Crusaders burst into life with three well-worked tries in the last seven minutes of the half to claim a flattering 16-10 interval lead.The Dons dominated the opening exchanges after the break and drew level with a 49th minute close-range converted try by Cooke.
Tommy Gilmore restored Crusaders’ lead with a try in the corner on 56 minutes during their first attack of the half.
The Dons rarely looked like regaining the lead in the final quarter.
* Dons: Butterfield, Scott, Morrison, Welham, Sanderson, Cooke, Nicklas, Castle, Kesik, Spiers, Robinson, Kelly, Emmett: Subs: Waller, Carbutt, Waterman, Spaven, Leaf, Ward, Starling, Wilson, Cunningham, Wilkinson.