Rochdale Hornets gained a psychological advantage over the Dons ahead of their meeting in the forthcoming Super 8s on the same ground.
The injury-hit Dons had hoped to upset the odds by becoming the first side to beat second-placed Hornets at Spotland in the league this season but they ended up on the wrong end of a 21-8 scoreline.
“I don’t think the score reflected the game and, after a slowish start during which time we struggled to make an impact with the ball and went behind, I thought we came back well and deserved to be ahead at half-time,” said head coach Gary Thornton.
“I was a bit disappointed with our composure in the second half if I’m honest and we could have made better use of a couple of good chances.
“We’ve got to come back here in the Super 8s and when we do we’ll hopefully have most, if not all, of the injured players back so we’ll be stronger and although Rochdale showed they are a good side today I won’t be worried coming back here.
“I thought we defended well today and had we taken our chances then who knows?
“The turning point in the game was their second try. From where I was sat the scorer looked to be in front of the kicker.”
With the Dons failing to improve on fourth place on the last weekend of the regular League One season, they will visit Hornets, York and Hunslet as well as entertaining table-topping Toulouse, Barrow, Keighley and London.