OLLIE STEDMAN showed his Premiership class with two tries as Doncaster Knights rose up to third place in the Championship.
The hard-running No8, who played in the top-flight with London Welsh, crossed twice from line-out drives in the first half as Clive Griffiths’ side proved too strong for Cornish Pirates.
Doncaster may have flirted with relegation last season but things are distinctly different this time around as they powered to their fourth win from just seven games.
With Rotherham Titans losing 46-28 at Bedford Blues on Friday night, they capitalised by rising above their South Yorkshire rivals into the play-off places with only leaders Yorkshire Carnegie and Bristol - who face each other at Ashton Gate tomorrow - above them.
Stedman was a force but so, too, was the lock pairing of Tyler Hotson and Jon Phelan while Paul Jarvis proved a threat all afternoon from full-back, Sam Edgerley buzzed around at scrum-half and centre William Hurrell was simply too robust for the Cornish midfield.
Doncaster started impressively, Hotson charging down Alex Day’s early kick, then stealing a line-out and also forcing a free-kick on Cornish’s own scrum.
It was, therefore, unsurprising when they took a lead after just six minutes, ex-Newcastle Falcons forward Stedman collecting his first try following a well-executed line-out drive, Dougie Flockhart converting.
Edgerley, who scored two tries from the wing in last week’s 27-20 defeat at Carnegie, made a searing break in his more customary No9 role only to find now support.
Instead, the hosts were penalised at their own scrum and Hotson was collared for holding onto possession, too, so Kieran Hallett, Cornish’s No10, brought them back to 7-6 by 14 minutes.
Jarvis made an incisive run but Sam Simmonds snuffed that out and turned him over while a lovely Stedman pass from the back of a line-out offered Hurrell - again impressive as at Headingley - another running chance.
Griffiths must have been fuming, though, to see Flockhart miss touch with a penalty and irritated further still when waste another attacking opportunity when Ben Hunter’s line-out throw was wonky.
However, from the resulting scrum, it was the visitors who infringed meaning Flockhart did find touch and this time Stedman crossed again from a similar move for his second try in the 34th minute.
Flockhart improved but his side needed Phelan to steal a second line-out close to their own line to relieve some mounting Pirates pressure.
Stedman blasted forward in search of a first-half hat-trick off the back of another line-out but the 24 year-old was half-grounded and penalised - harshly - for continuing as the line got tantalisingly closer.
Tyson Lewis and Jarvis scrambled well to force Alex Cheesman into touch just as the Cornish captain looked like scoring their first try just before the interval.
It was a decisive play as, as soon as the second period started, it was Doncaster pulling further clear courtesy of Hurrell’s excellent try, bursting through tackles from 25m out for to make it 21-6.
Cheesman wasted a glorious chance for Cornish to immediately respond when his long pass floated forward when an overlap was clear.
Instead, Knights secured their bonus point and made sure of victory when captain Michael Hills went over in the 50th minute, showing how things should be executed, Ollie Bryant unleashing Tyson Lewis initially in midfield, the Doncaster winger surging close.
Flockhart did the rest and Hurrell was unlucky not to add his second following another dashing raid, only to be ruled out due to crossing.
Cornish, out-muscled and out-played, had not looked like scoring in the second half but replacement Will Graulich scored from nowhere in the 61st minute to offer some hope.
However, Joe Atkinson was then yellow carded having barely come on and, so, it was the Knights who finished strongest, David Clark covering well to deny Matt Evans a second Cornish try.
As soon as Atkinson returned, Graulich was yellow-carded for pulling down a maul as Stedman aimed for his hat-trick in injury-time.
Doncaster host London Scottish next Saturday which should be a sterner test of just how much they have improved.
Doncaster Knights: Jarvis; Flockhart, Clark, Hurrell (Bulumakau 77), Lewis; Bryant, Edgerley (Field 80); List (Bergmanas 68), Hunter (Viekoso 68), Quigley (John 67), Hotson, Phelan (Young 74), Shaw, Hills, Stedman. Replacement unused: Makaafi.
Cornish Pirates: May (Bodilly 55); Arnott, Riley, James, Evans; Hallett, Day (Oulton 75); Walker (Innard 53), Elloway (Andrew 53), Jamieson (Paver 64), McGlone (Atkinson 63), Beukeboom, Cheesman, Simmonds, Carpenter (Graulich 20).
Referee: Ian Tempster (RFU)