DONCASTER DONS: Fitness race for Paul Cooke as title party falls flat

Top Dons: Doncaster Rugby League team with the Championship League Leaders Trophy after their narrow play-off semi-final defeat to Barrow.        Picture: steve ellis
Top Dons: Doncaster Rugby League team with the Championship League Leaders Trophy after their narrow play-off semi-final defeat to Barrow. Picture: steve ellis

THE Dons look to be facing a race against time to get play-maker Paul Cooke fit for Sunday’s Championship One Play-Off semi-final against Workington Town at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Cooke played on for nearly half-an-hour, during which time he was a virtual passenger, after injuring his knee in the first tackle of yesterday’s Qualifying semi-final against Barrow, which the Cumbrians won 22-20.

Cooke, as did many Doncaster supporters, thought that he had been targeted and was reported to be ‘livid’ by Dons’ boss Tony Miller.

Miller told The Star that he was still settling into his seat at the time and didn’t see the incident but felt the loss of such a key man probably cost the Dons, who pipped Barrow for the League Leaders’ Shield, the game.

“We lacked the composure that Paul gives us,” said Miller.

He admitted that Barrow, who led 16-12 at the break, had been the better team in the first half.

“We had to do a lot of try-line defending in the first half - and I was happy with our defence - but it was a complete reversal in the second,” he said.

“They scored first to lead 22-12, but we came back and I thought we battered them in the last 15 or 20 minutes to be honest. We scored two tries and could have had others in the second half and they deserve a lot of credit for the way they dug in at the end. A lot of other sides would have crumbled.”

A major talking point after the game was the Dons’ decision to run a kickable penalty, which would have levelled the scores had it gone over, in the final quarter.

“It was my decision to take a tap penalty,” said Miller, “We’d lost our main kicker.”