Rugby Union: Doncaster Knights 3 Bristol 65

Hit: Michael Keating, right, brings down Iain Grieve. Photo: Sarah Washbourn.
Hit: Michael Keating, right, brings down Iain Grieve. Photo: Sarah Washbourn.
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BRISTOL looked every bit a Premiership side in waiting as they put Doncaster Knights to the sword in the first of their Championship Promotion Play-off Pool A games at Castle Park.

The game was effectively over as a contest by half-time as Bristol led 32-3 after producing a tremendous show of attacking rugby.

Winger Dougie Flockhart gave Knights an early lead when converting a straight 40 metre penalty after just four minutes.

Bristol hit back and capitalised on their first visit to the Doncaster 22 when good handling down the line saw winger Jack Tovey cross in the corner on eight minutes for his ninth try of the season.

Bristol were in again on 12 minutes, hooker Ross Johnston scoring from a forward drive. Former Doncaster fly-half Tristram Roberts added the extras to make it 12-3.

Knights suffered a blow on 21 minutes when prop Tom Davies, who had earlier made a storming midfield run, limped off with a leg injury.

The home side were reduced to 14 men a minute later, Flockhart being sin-binned for obstruction.

Bristol, for whom powerhouse Samoan centre Fautua Otto was causing problems every time he touched the ball, wasted little time in cashing in on their numerical advantage -Johnston driving over from close range for a second try. Roberts again tagged on the conversion to leave his former club trailing 19-3.

The half-back added a penalty on the half-hour.

No sooner had Flockhart returned to the fray than Knights lost inspirational skipper Chris Hallam with a shoulder injury. Roberts turned the screw with a second penalty on the stroke of half-time to make it 25-3.

There was a let-off for Knights in stoppage time when winger George Watkins dropped skipper Iain Grieve’s try-scoring pass five metres out. Their joy short-lived, however, as the referee awarded Bristol a penalty try. Roberts added the conversion to make it 32-3. Bristol, whose big forwards were proving a real handful, added to their tally with an unconverted try by Johnston from a driving maul on 48 minutes.

Knights moved centre Fred Burdon to fly-half and flanker Latu Maakafi to centre after making a double substitution on 50 minutes. Centre Luke Eves, son of former Doncaster player-coach, claimed Bristol’s sixth try on 58 minutes, again converted by Roberts, to make it 44-3. Lock Dom Parsons broke clear on 63 minutes but lacked support and was forced to kick ahead.

Otto capped an impressive display with a 69 minute try, goaled by Matt Jones. Ben Glynn and Tovey added late converted tries.

* Knights: Toft, Flockhart, Goss, Burdon, Keating, Quinn-McDonogh (Boyde 50) Hallam (Heaney 31); Davies (Burke-Flynn 20) Boden (Yeandle 60), Brown (Alex) (Boden 73), Kenworthy (Challinor 50) Parsons, Makaffi, Farivarz, Planchant (Kettle 64).

* Bristol: Goodridge; Tovey, Otto, Eves, Watkins (Helu 61); Roberts (Slater 64) Tipuna (Vanderglas 64) Irish, Johnson (Harris-Wright 64) Hobson, Townson, Winters, Grieve, Mama, Montage (Jones 65).

* Referee: Ross Campbell