TRY-SCORER: Miles Greenwood provided a solitary first-half score for the Bulldogs
IF THE Bulldogs’ top-four hopes had already been dashed, defeat to Doncaster – a fifth on the spin – has perhaps ended them.
Despite former Super League star Paul Cooke rolling back the years to produce a fine individual display, a simply woeful first-half performance from Batley could not be excused.
Although the home side replied on 25 minutes, halting the visitors’ apparent onslaught, the Bulldogs offered little in the way of quality.
Doncaster had evidently arrived to fight for a play-off spot, while John Kear’s men appeared to have given up without one.
Down 20-6 at the break, few would have wanted to attend the Bulldogs’ half-time team talk.
Batley improved after the break, scoring first and threatening to produce something of a comeback.
But it wasn’t to be, Doncaster holding firm to claim a deserved three points as the Bulldogs closed empty-handed.
The South Yorkshire away side ended an 18-minute stalemate through prop Mark Castle, who eased past a trio of defenders to touch down.
And the visitors increased their advantage when Danny Cowling finished a tremendous passing move to score in the corner.
A one-time Challenge Cup winner, Cooke piled on the pressure forcing two of six goal-line drop-outs during a short spell.
Batley looked lost, their entire campaign potentially crumbling around them.
Full-back Miles Greenwood handed the hosts a much-needed lifeline, however, 25 minutes in following a 75-metre Gareth Potts break.
But Greenwood’s 11th try of the season didn’t inspire the Bulldogs.
Further chances arose, but poor levels of execution proved costly.
And the Bulldogs were made to rue missed opportunities as Stewart Sanderson added eight points to the rising Doncaster tally.
After kicking a penalty the 30-year-old added the extras to a try of his own thanks to a near Matty Dawson offload.
For the first time in a long time, the Bulldogs returned to the Mount Pleasant dressing rooms to a chorus of boos.
Front-rower Alex Rowe gave the home support belief as he crashed over just shy of the hour mark.
But, again, bombed chances and unforced errors proved costly for the side sitting fifth on the Championship ladder.
Half-back Gareth Moore had a pair of tries cancelled out by man in the middle Ronnie Laughton.
It seemed everything and everyone was against Kear’s men as temperatures soared.
And their fate was sealed 15 minutes from time when loan half-back Liam Kay rubbed salt into the Bulldogs’ wounds, stripping them of a consolation bonus point, with a fine solo effort.
BULLDOGS: Miles Greenwood 7; Gareth Potts 7; Jason Walton 7; Ayden Faal 6; Greg Johnson 6; Ben Black 6; Tom Hemingway 7; Byron Smith 7; Paul Mennell 6; Alex Rowe 8; Alex Bretherton 6; John Davies 6; Danny Maun 6. Subs: Josh Johnson 6; George Flanagan 6; Keegan Hirst 6; Gareth Moore 7.
Tries: Greenwood (27), Rowe (55)
Goals: Hemingway 2/2
DONCASTER: Mick Butterfield 8; Dennis Tuffor 7; Danny Cowling 7; Matty Dawson 8; Stewart Saderson 8; Paul Cooke 9; Liam Kay 8; Mark Castle 9; Mike Emmett 7; Matt Carbutt 7; Mike Kelly 7; Chris Spurr 7; Grant Edwards 8. Subs: Kyle Kesick 7; Russ Spiers 8; Brett Waller 7; Lee Waterman 7.
Tries: Castle (18), Cowling (21), Sanderson (39), Kay (66)
Goals: Sanderson 5/5
Referee: Ronnie Laughton
ThePress Man of The Match: Alex Rowe – The front-rower attempted to inspire a second-half fightback
Match Rating: 3/5
By Ryan Sparks