Bristol 39 Doncaster Knights 10
DONCASTER’s Director of Rugby Brett Davey heaped praise on his Knights team despite a sixth successive Championship play-off defeat.
It proved to be another frustrating afternoon for Davey’s side as they finished rock bottom of qualifying Pool A.
But injuries to key players have hampered Knights’ hopes of reaching the semi-final stages.
This defeat at Bristol was comprehensive, but Davey took heart from a spirited second half performance. Having called for his players to show pride for wearing the Knights’ jersey, the Welshmanleft the Memorial Ground hopeful of building for the future next season.
“We actually didn’t play that bad, we battled hard and the scoreline flattered the a little bit,” Davey told The Star.
And next year,with the recruitment of six or seven new players, Davey is optimistic the clubcan achieve a top four league finish.
“We’ve got a few players leaving, but we’ve probably got 15 players staying and hopefully wecan get six or seven new players in.”
Bristol started the brighter and took the lead after only three minutes when Luke Eves crossed for the opening try of the game and Matthew Jones added the extras.
The Knights rallied but Ben Toft was penalised in the 16th minute for holding on and Jones kicked the first of his two match penalties.
Winger Dougie Flockhart scored the Knights’ first points shortly after the half hour mark when the West Country men were penalised for not rolling away in successive phases.
But Bristol soon had a penalty of their own and bagged a try through winger Will Helu. Jones converted to give the hosts a deserved 17-point lead.
Stand-in fly-half Fred Burdon hit back with the Knights’ only try of the game three minutes before the break and Flockhart converted the resulting conversion, only for Bristol to go further ahead courtesy of a penalty try and a successful kick from the on-song for a 27-10 interval lead.
And it was Bristol who scored 12 unanswered points after the break to put the contest out of sight despite a battling effort from the Knights in blustery conditions.
Fautua Otto took advantage of a useful deflection to score in the 58th minute and then Matty James scored in the last minute to make sure of the points.
Knights: Keating (Berridge 66), Flockhart, Goss, Gidlow, Toft, Burdon (Quinn-McDonogh 74), Heaney, Brown, Yeandle, Brown (Francis 54), Smith, Parsons, Challinor, Bradford (Farivarz 33) (Kettle 60), Makaafi (Kenworthy 70).
Tries: Burdon; conversions: Flockhart; penalties: Flockhart.
Bristol tries: Eves, Helu, Penalty, Otto, James; conversion: Jones (4); penalties: Jones (2); yellow card: Davis 77.
Referee: Ian Tempest