After a 2020 season which lasted all of two rounds and a 2021 campaign compromised by Covid-19 issues, Betfred League 1 will have its big day out in the sun on Sunday as Workington Town host Doncaster in the promotion play-off final.
The match, which will be streamed live by The Sportsman, will decide who joins Barrow Raiders in being promoted to the Betfred Championship, with Doncaster having stunned many by winning three matches already in the play-offs to reach the final despite finishing fifth in the regular season.
“It’s all about recovery and getting the boys ready, and recharged and energised for Sunday’s game,” Doncaster coach Richard Horne said of his side’s preparation for the final on the back of their dramatic 28-26 win in last weekend’s preliminary final away to Keighley Cougars.
“We fell short in the last couple of years, and that’s always disappointing, but we’ve given ourselves an opportunity. We’ve got a real tough team to play in Workington, who are in good form and got a similar result to us against Keighley, so it’s going to be another one of those nail-biters.”
Horne, who won the 2005 Challenge Cup and made the 2006 Super League Grand Final during a 16-year playing career with Hull FC, says the big occasion is sure to get his players feeling nervous.
“You do get excited, you can’t help it. You’re in a big game, you want to be excited about taking the field, but it’s about making sure you can apply what we’ve asked them to do.”
Workington also beat Keighley to reach the play-off final, edging the Cougars 18-16 in the previous week’s qualifying semi-final in golden point extra time. Carl Forber’s penalty after a high shot on Brad Holroyd was all that separated the two sides, but having finished second to only champions Barrow during the regular season, it is Chris Thorman’s side – with home advantage – who are favourites to win Sunday’s final.
Doncaster won both contests this term, triumphing 26-24 at Derwent Park in May and later recording a 22-12 home success over Town, who only lost four games in total in the entire league campaign.