Player-coach Paul Cooke was disappointed his men were unable to break the curse of Dewsbury Rams as their Championship counterparts side took a hard-fought 20-12 victory back to West Yorkshire.
Despite the Dons going into the lead against their ‘bogey team’, Dewsbury Ram raided the hosts in the latter stages of the game (click above to hear Cooke’s thoughts).
Doncaster and Dewsbury, whose three meetings last season ended in Rams wins, were going into Sunday’s tie on an equal footing having not dropped a point in their opening two matches of the season.
And that form showed as neither side were willing to give up the first score as the opening 40 minutes ended in a stalemate with physical battles prevailing at the Keepmoat Stadium.
A half-chance relinquished by Liam Welham was the best the Dons could muster in the first half as Tom Hemingway thought he had broken the deadlock when he pounced on an Anthony Thackeray kick, only to see the score chalked off for offside.
Despite the Rams arguably shading the play before the interval, it was Doncaster who flew out of the starting blocks and struck first.
The try came as hooker Scott Spaven crashed over for Cooke’s outfit’s opening try.
Stewart Sanderson then made no mistake from the resulting conversion as Doncaster raced into a 6-0 lead just minutes after the restart.
The Rams hit back eight minutes later when good play from Kieran Hyde led to second rower Scott Hale breaking through the tough Doncaster backline and going over for the four points.
Hemingway had the chance to level proceedings but dragged his conversion well wide of the posts as Doncaster held onto their slender lead.
The move of the match came inside the 56th minute as Cooke combined beautifully with Mike Kelly down the left before the player-boss finally collected a superb offload to dive over.
But Sanderson was unable to add the extras for the hosts as the game remained on a knife-edge.
Dewsbury showed their determination as they again hit back, this time through the influential Thackeray as the scrum-half proved too powerful for the Doncaster backline and bulldozed his way over for a well-worked try.
Hemingway had the simplest of kicks as his effort went between the posts to bring the tie level to 10-10.
The away side then went into the lead for the first time in the game as Hyde struck a 25-yard penalty for 12-10.
With 15 minutes of the match remaining, the Rams looked to be heading towards a narrow victory, however, their lead was short-lived as Sanderson had a penalty of his own, making no mistake for 12-12 with a solid 35-yard strike.
Greg Scott later finished off a flowing Dewsbury move to see them into the lead before Hyde’s curling conversion made it 18-12.
And Hyde had the last say of the game in front of the 700-plus crowd in Doncaster as Glenn Morrison’s men ran down the clock to record a superb victory on their travels.
Doncaster: Butterfield, Scott, Morrison, Welham, Sanderson, Cooke, Nicklas, Robinson, Spaven, Carbutt, Hadley, Kelly, Emmett. Subs: Leaf, Wilson, Starling, Castle.
Dewsbury: Sheriff, Morton, Pryce, Grady, Scott, Hemingway, Thackeray, Nash, Godwin, Hepworth, Spicer, Hale, Brown. Subs: Hyde, Gallagher, Aizue, Haggarty.