RUGBY UNION: Doncaster Knights’ campaign in the promotion play-offs in Pool A started disastrously last night at Castle Park where they were thrashed by a rampaging Bristol side keen to regain their place in the Premiership.
Doncaster, losing 32-3 at the interval having let in four tries in the first half, were little better in the second as the promotion favourites ran in another five tries.
What was so surprising during a humiliating and bruising evening for the home side was that Doncaster were seldom able to compete against a team that appeared not only fitter, but were faster in thought and execution.
Doncaster’s cause was not helped by first-half injuries to scrum-half and captain Chris Hallam and prop Tom Davies.
Bristol also exploited the yellow card against winger Dougie Flockhart because in his absence, they added a penalty and a converted try.
Doncaster’s coach Brett Davey now has the monumental challenge of rebuilding the team’s confidence as they prepare for the rest of the promotion campaign which resumes at Nottingham next weekend. As well as their weaknesses in attack, Davey will be concerned about Doncaster’s errors in defence.
Doncaster did show some improvement in the second half and their spirit was typified by a charge out of defence by second row forward Dominic Parsons running more than 30 metres deep into Bristol territory.
Doncaster’s only points on a night they will wish to forget came from a fifth minute penalty by Flockhart, but subsequently Bristol punished them regularly in a comfortable victory.
Doncaster Knights: B. Toft, Flockhart, Goss, Burdon, Keating, Quinn-McDonogh, Hallam, R. Davies, Boden, A. Brown, Kenworthy, D. Parsons, Makaafi, Farivarz, Planchant. Replacements: Burke-Flynn, Yeandle, Challinor, Kettle, Noone, Heaney, Boyde.
Bristol: Goodridge, Tovey, Otto, Eves, Watkins, Roberts, Tipuna, Irish, Johnson, Hobson, Townson, Winters, Grieve, Mama, Montagu. Replacements: Harris-Wright, Thompson, Glynn, Vanderglas, Slater, M. Jones, Helu.
Referee: Ross Campbell (RFU).