Rochdale Hornets 26 Doncaster 18

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THE Dons saw their season come to a close as they failed to quell a second half fightback from Rochdale in the Championship One Play Off semi final eliminator at Spotland.

After establishing a 18-8 lead at the break, Doncaster did not make early pressure count in the second half and rapidly ran out steam as the hosts upped their game.

The match started so well for Tony Miller’s side as they sent the kick off straight back down Rochdale’s throats.

But it was the Hornets who drew first blood as Doncaster proved too keen on spreading the ball.

Perhaps one pass too many from Craig Fawcett saw Dale Bloomfield intercept and gallop more than two thirds of the pitch to score in the corner.

The Dons hit back almost straight away after receiving a penalty around 20 metres out.

The ball was moved down the line well with Scott Spaven laying off to Craig Robinson who forced his way over, Spaven adding the conversion.

Four minutes later, more good passing work from Doncaster saw Adam Scott dart through a gap to the right of the posts, Spaven converting.

Midway through the half the Dons surged further ahead when quick thinking from Grant Edwards saw him punt through a crowded area for Chris Spurr to dive over, Spaven adding the conversion.

Doncaster defended valiantly for the remainder of the half and fended off a series of searching attacks from Rochdale during a torrential downpour.

But the Hornets did find success on the stroke of half time as the Dons appeared to lose focus allowing Bloomfield to crash over.

It proved the unlikely gateway back into the match for Rochdale and ensured the scoreline failed to reflect Doncaster’s control of the first half.

Both sides went exceptionally close to adding to their scores over the first ten minutes after the break.

It was Rochdale who scored first when a high kick from Steven Roper was not collected by Doncaster allowing Andy Saywell to pick up and capitalise on the confusion to touch down, Paul Crook converting.

Rochdale seemed to sense the way back into the game ahead and lifted their game, producing some massive hits in defence which rattled and hurt Doncaster.

From here there looked to be only one winner, especially when Bloomfield grabbed his hat trick try after a good pass from Crook who then missed the conversion to leave the scoreline at 18-18 with 15 minutes to go.

Five minutes later the Hornets took the lead when Crook slotted over an easy penalty following a high tackle.

And a few minutes later they increased their advantage when Crook’s high kick was claimed by Wayne English who then spilled only for Chris Hough to pick up and barge his way over, Crook converting.

There simply was not enough time or energy left for Doncaster to force their way back into the game while Rochdale soaked up remaining pressure to set up a semi final clash with Keighley Cougars.

The Dons must now reflect on an event-filled campaign which so nearly brought great success.

Dons: Mike Butterfield, Stu Sanderson, Nev Morrison, Chris Spurr, Gareth Potts, Scott Spaven, Craig Fawcett, Adam Scott, Mike Emmett, Kyle Samson, Craig Robinson, Grant Edwards, Carl Hughes.

Subs: Kyle Kesik, Mike Carbutt, Dom Det, Mike Coady.

Att: 552.