Breaking: Dons’ top-three hopes hit after three-point deduction

Donc V Workington       Pasqualle Dunn Sub for Dons Scores

Donc V Workington Pasqualle Dunn Sub for Dons Scores

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Doncaster RLFC’s hopes of a top-three finish have been hit after they were handed a three-point deduction by the RFL.

Batley Bulldogs have also been hit with the same penalty, after fielding an ineligible player.

The Dons stay in fourth place in the Championship, but their hopes of a top-three finish have taken a huge blow.

Both clubs were found guilty by an RFL tribunal of fielding ineligible players on a dual registration from a Super League club after the registration deadline last month.

Batley played Huddersfield’s Jacob Fairbank in the their win at Owlerton and Doncaster fielded Ben Crooks, from Hull FC, in their defeat at Keighley.

Eagles had hoped the result of the Batley game would be reversed and points awarded to them. The points deduction means John Kear’s team face a battle to avoid relegation.

A win for the Eagles against Whitehaven at Owlerton Stadium tomorrow (kick-off 2pm) will consolidate their hold on sixth place.

The defending champions are one point above Keighley and Workington who occupy the final two play-off spots.

“Whitehaven have a lot to play for,” said coach Mark Aston. “They beat us at their place (24-22) and we owe them one.

“The lads have a bit of confidence and a smile on their faces after beating Doncaster and Swinton. As well as we didn’t play last weekend we still got the three points and that’s what we wanted.”

Forward Michael Knowles is a doubt after injuring ribs in training. Half-back or loose-forward Patch Walker could come into the squad after missing two games.

“We’ll give Michael until the last minute to see if he’s fit,” added Aston.

Eagles face two games in four days with Rochdale Hornets at Sheffield Hallam University’s Sports Park, Bawtry Road, on Wednesday, kick-off 7.30pm.