Doncaster RLFC 22-6 Workington Town
Ever wondered what goes on at football grounds once the season is over and the summer months roll in? For some northern clubs, the beginning of June marks the point at which football vacates the setting and rugby league becomes the main focus on the pitch. LS Sport’s Andrew Belt reports from Doncaster…
There’s Wigan Warriors, Huddersfield Giants and Hull FC in Super League, Sheffield Eagles and Halifax in the Championship, and Rochdale Hornets and Doncaster bring rugby league to Spotland and the Keepmoat Stadium respectively.
The Championship 1 is the lowest tier of the Rugby Football League and, in a move to expand the geographical influence of the sport, will introduce four new teams to the league next season. For clubs not fancying the long trips toWalesand the south ofEngland, there has never been a better time to be promoted and the Keepmoat Stadium hosted two teams eager to enter next season’s Championship last Thursday.
Workington Town needed a win against their hosts to secure promotion and were supported by a dedicated group of fans clad in their traditional white and blue jerseys. A win forDoncasterwould keep them in the hunt for the Championship 1 title and, as such, a lot was at stake.
891 fans were located in one end but made the noise of a considerably higher number of supporters. And after only a couple of minutes the crowd were treated to the first try of the night as Craig Robinson flung himself over the line in the left hand corner. Paul Cooke’s goal gaveDoncastera 6-0 lead. On twenty minutes, Cooke then went over for a try himself and secured the extras despite the Workington’s fans attempts to put him off.
A win forDoncasterwould keep them in the hunt for the Championship 1 title …a lot was at stake
Cooke was clearly the fulcrum of everything Doncaster were creating offensively and it came as no surprise to discover that he had been bought as the star signing for the 2012 season. In fact, the former Hull FC, Hull KR and Wakefield Wildcats player was brought to the Keepmoat with fans and sponsors clubbing together to pay half his wages while he works in the club’s development department.
A combination of sloppy handling by Workington and a stubborn defensive line maintained by Doncaster was frustrating the away side and it wasn’t too long before the followers from Cumbria were chanting uncomplimentary words about the referee that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a football stadium. A near-perfect first half was capped off for the Dons when the irrepressible Cooke scored two goals to give Doncaster a 16-0 half-time lead.
The second half began in much the same fashion as the first with Lee Waterman powering through the centre of the Workington defence to dive through the posts for a try in the opening few minutes. Cooke kept up his perfect kicking record and the 22-0 advantage looked like lasting for the entirety of the game until Peter Lupton scored a try in the 73rd minute to bring the score to 22-4. Carl Barber scored the extras and, suddenly, Workington, lured by the thought of grabbing an extra try and ensuring they claimed a point from the fixture, showed an urgency that had been lacking before they’d scored these points.
Doncaster worked tremendously hard to keep the considerable danger of the Workington forward line at bay
On another night, Workington would have scored numerous tries and possibly won the game but it wasn’t to be and they went home without a point and waiting for promotion to come their way. Doncaster worked tremendously hard to keep the considerable danger of the Workington forward line at bay and were saluted by the home fans at the end as they acknowledged the hard work that has gone into a successful season for the Blue and Golds.
Three days later, Whitehaven’s win against Rochdale Hornets ensured that the Lancashire club couldn’t catch Doncaster or Workington and, thus, handed the two clubs promotion. Doncaster won’t want to stop there with the title still up for grabs should Barrow Raiders slip up but, with four games to go, both the Dons and Workington can breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to their part in the newly-expanded Championship next season and hopefully secure the attention of more sports fans in their respective catchment areas.
Words: Andrew Belt