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Paul Cooke's Verdict

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#1 Dons News

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 09:04 PM

Doncaster player-coach Paul Cooke spoke to the official website after his side's 22-16 win over Featherstone Rovers in the Kingstone Press Championship at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Reflecting on the game and the result, Cooke was very pleased with the outcome and performance of his side, saying:

"It's a massive win for us, Featherstone have been at the pinnacle of this competition for the last four years.  They are a very good side, well coached and have some top players.

"In the first half we should have been more in front.  After not seeing much territory for the first 15/20 minutes, when we got our opportunities we took them, we could have possibly kicked for goal a couple of times when we had penalties and gone in more comfortable at the break.  In the second half we transpired to try and lose the game with stupid penalties and errors coming out of our own end and I thought Featherstone fully deserved their lead going into the last 20 minutes.  But we knew that if we could get an opportunity we would be able to take it, even if it was just one.  We have confidence that when we get to 20 points that it is going to take a good side to beat us.

"We conceded a 1 in 10 play when Gareth Morris chipped over and Ian Hardman scored, you can try that ninety nine times and it will only come off once and the bounce of a ball and Jay Pitts slips for the first time in the half.  If they score tries like that against us we have to be pretty happy with our defence.   I thought we could have been more than 12-6 up at the break, we could possibly have scored 14 or 16 points and that would have reflected our effort and endeavour in the first half.

Featherstone are a top quality team, they are well coached and well drilled.  They did exactly what we thought they were going to do, when you spend so little time in possession you have to defend well and I thought we did in large parts.

Talking about Jay Pitt's performance, Cooke said he was visibly upset that he had slipped, but was quick to praise his overall performance and attitude in the match:

Jay was gutted before half time, when they were kicking the goal, he was speaking to himself about what a time to slip.  That just shows the character of the man, I thought the rest of us could have shown a bit more endeavour to get back to the chip like Jay did, but he had a great game for us today, along with Liam Kent, we are thankful for the help from Hull and there are 15 players from Doncaster who have really stood up today.  Let's remember we are still doing it tough with some injuries, our captain out Kyle Kesick and Mark Castle, so it is a massive win for us.

The Dons head coach was also quick to praise man of the match Dave Scott who marked the game with a try against his former club:

Dave Scott scored a wonderful try in the first half.  We had Dave on loan last season and when I met him to bring him to the club permanently, he was a massive signing for me and the club.  He is a favourite of the fans and showed today just why, making a leap from a top club, to a club who has got some ambition of being where Featherstone are, it may be a step sideways or backwards in his career, but it shows that when you come to a club and get regular rugby like Dave has got, you can really go places and I thought he was fantastic today, along with the other 16 players on the field.

Doncaster were on the back of a large penalty count, conceding many throughout the game, but Cooke was not to disillusioned with this stating:

"We spoke about Featherstone and how good they wrestle, get up, pin you on the floor and get to the marker position.  We knew that we had to take some chances with that sort of aspect of the game, so to be on the back of a 4-0 penalty count early was tough and then on a team warning, we sailed pretty close to the wind really.  It was a game where we had to test out the referee and see where we were at and we got progressively better.  I don't mind penalties in the rook if we are trying to dominate the opposition and we were trying that early, it is difficult sometimes though when arms are trapped in the tackle.

Despite the result, Cooke is refusing to get carried away with the start that his side have made to the season, winning five matches from their first six league and cup games:

It is a big win for us, but it is round five, nothing is won in March or April. We have another big game next week in round six and there is still a lot of rugby to be played.  We are happy where we are as a group, we are not playing particularly well but we are a tough side to beat.  The players are really grounded, a good tight knit group and we will be working very hard this week for the match against Halifax which is another big game for us.  I thought today we stood up and we really put in a shift, the boys are sore and recovering now with ice baths.  We are away next week, so week on week, it will quickly be forgotten by us, we will review it, draw a line under it and head to Halifax with confidence.

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