Doncaster v Batley: Dons aim to steal second spot from Featherstone

Steve Snitch in action against Halifax.
Steve Snitch in action against Halifax.

Doncaster go into the final round of Championship fixtures on Sunday guaranteed a top-four finish.

The club needed just one point from their remaining two fixtures ahead of last Sunday’s home game against Halifax to achieve their pre-season target.

But following their impressive 39-18 win over Halifax, and Featherstone’s home defeat to Sheffield, they claimed third spot and could yet pip Rovers for second place.

“If we beat Batley at home on Sunday then we’ll finish third but we could also finish higher if Keighley beat Featherstone at Cougar Park,” said player-coach Paul Cooke.

“If somebody had offered us either position at the start of the season we’d have snapped their hand off.

“Because five teams are relegated this season it makes for a very exciting finish, with any one of four teams in danger of joining the four who are already down.

“What makes it particularly interesting is that two of the four teams who need to win to be certain of staying up are Batley and Keighley.

“It would have been better had we been playing against a team who had already been relegated, as will Halifax who entertain bottom club Barrow.

“But the bottom line is that we need to win to stay third because I can’t see Halifax losing. We then nee to hope Keighley do us a favour.

“We know that Batley will be fighting for their lives and that coach John Kear will have them fully motivated on the day,” he added.

“It promises to be a game of real intensity - and it would be nice to see a big crowd - but I think there is more pressure on them.

“We’ll certainly be going into the game on the back of a really good performance against Halifax.

“I thought that we defended really well in the first half and were clinical when the chances came our way.

“We got to the areas we wanted and we put on the plays we wanted. We got what we deserved out of the first 40 minutes.

“We came in leading 19-6 at half time and in my mind we’d cemented fourth spot. I felt it unlikely they’d outscore us by 26 points in the second half to deny us a losing bonus point.”

Should the Dons finish second they would entertain Featherstone in the first round of the eight-team play-offs. Third place would result in a trip to Rovers.

Dons would visit leaders Leigh if they were to finish fourth. Both losing top-four sides get a second bite of the cherry.