Dons’ player-coach Paul Cooke took yesterday’s crushing 54-18 Championship defeat against unbeaten leaders Leigh Centurions at the Keepmoat Stadium on the chin.
The visitors, whose pace and support play was a feature of their game, ran in ten tries when sentencing second-bottom Dons to their fourth defeat in as many games.
“Whilst I appreciate that people will be very disappointed with the result there are some mitigating circumstances regarding personnel and the lack of experience in certain positions,” claimed Cooke.
“We certainly won’t be the last team that Leigh do that to this season. They are a very good side and they made our right edge in particular look ordinary at times.
“We conceded three tries from our own kicks and you just can’t do that at this level.”
With Cooke, who has been struggling with a knee infection ruling himself out, the Dons were forced to field two young half-backs Tom Holt and Josh Kittrick.
“They will benefit from the run but when you are missing a bit of quality and guidance you do lose a bit of shape,” said the veteran stand-off.
“I asked the players before the game to give me everything they’d got and to put their hands up for Sunday’s game at Hunslet which is a huge game for us.
“I thought that we had a dig but we were always going to be up against it with players who have never played at this level before. We got a level of performance which was acceptable even if the result wasn’t.”
Cooke expects that both he and exciting young scrum-half prospect Richard Wilkinson, yet to play this season following a pre-season knee operation, will come into contention next weekend.