Doncaster RLFC: Cooke’s double vision ahead of Featherstone trip

Dons are hoping to have Mike Kelly, centre, back in their ranks when they face Rovers.  Picture: Malcolm Billingham
Dons are hoping to have Mike Kelly, centre, back in their ranks when they face Rovers. Picture: Malcolm Billingham

The Dons will be aiming to complete a rare double over the once-mighty Featherstone Rovers in this weekend’s testing Championship clash.

Paul Cooke’s side produced one of their best performances of the season when beating the West Yorkshire side 22-16 at the Keepmoat in March.

There have been big changes at Featherstone since then, however, with coach John Bastian losing his job and being replaced by Andy Hay, who spent time on the coaching staff at Doncaster during Ian St John Ellis’s time in charge.

A number of new players have also been drafted in following a large cash injection by the club’s backers who are targeting promotion to the top flight in the 2015 campaign.

Among the new faces at the club is former Hull FC prop Chris Green, who has played a number of games for the Dons this season.

Rovers will go into the game on a five-match winning sequence having beaten fifth-placed Dewsbury last Sunday.

Although his own charges have picked up maximum points from their last three league games, during which time they have regained third spot in the table, Cooke is under no illusions about Sunday’s game.

“They are not second in the table for nothing and they are going to be a tough nut to crack. Obviously they beat Dewsbury, although the result was in the balance for long periods of the game,” said the Dons’ boss.

“If we play anything like we can, we will be in the game again. But if we don’t, then we’ll probably get beaten by a really good side.

“I don’t think that anyone, including Featherstone, are in the same class at Leigh (who took Leeds Rhinos to the wire in their Challenge Cup quarter-final tie) at the minute.

“But Featherstone are obviously trying to buy their way up to that level, though that [policy] can sometimes be dangerous when you bring in players on big money because that can affect the rest of the group.

“But all we’ve concentrated on this week is ourselves. We’ve had a look at them and tried to combat what they are doing.”

Having lost the services - as such - of Green, Lee Waterman, Grant Edwards and now Liam Kent, Cooke’s options up front remain limited.

Meanwhile, both Shaun Leaf and Mike Kelly could come into contention for the clash at Post Office Road if they suffer no reaction in training this week.