RUGBY LEAGUE: Doncaster to merge with Sheffield Eagles

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The Independent Online

Doncaster were saved from extinction yesterday by a merger with their Yorkshire neighbours, Sheffield Eagles. The struggling First Division club looked set to go to the wall when debts of around £1.4m forced them to call in insolvency consultants before Christmas.

But the immediate future of rugby league in the town was secured by the widely expected announcement that they are to join forces with Sheffield to form what the Eagles coach, Gary Hetherington, predicts can become "a powerful new club representing all of South Yorkshire".

Doncaster will complete their fixtures this season under the guidance of the insolvency consultants and will merge with Sheffield in the summer to play under a new name which is yet to be decided.

The joint administrator, Julian Pitts, said that a late takeover bid had been launched by a consortium - believed to include the former Doncaster coach, Tony Fisher - but that the merger option was seen as the most acceptable plan.

London Broncos will have their future decided by their owners, Brisbane Broncos, at the end of the season. Brisbane are worried that the London club will lose between £300,000 and £500,000 this campaign.

Wigan will still have Frano Botica on board next season. He had been expected to join Auckland Warriors this summer, but the 31-year-old former All Black has signed a new one-year contract at Wigan with a further 12- month option.

Oldham's Wilson Marsh, the first player to be referred by a referee under the new "on-field reporting" rule, has been cleared of foul play.