Doncaster Knights went down fighting in a ten try thriller at Goldington Road against a strong Bedford side which confirmed relegation from the Championship for the Yorkshiremen.
Clive Griffiths’ men started brightly displaying great ambition, but it was the home side who claimed the first half securing an early try bonus point thanks to a brace of tries for both Scott Spurling and Ollie Dodge.
On loan Saracens hooker Spurling grabbed his first from a close range driving maul, whilst his second saw him stroll in unopposed with Doncaster down to 14 men as Chris Hallam saw yellow for an adjudged infringement in the ruck.
Dodge proved beneficiary in both of his couple, firstly Saracens star James Short splitting the Knights defence in half before offloading to the grateful Blues centre. On the mark of half-time he collected his second from a quick lineout. Myles Dorrian, on loan from Exeter Chiefs, didn’t put a foot wrong converting all four attempts.
Knights single try came through skipper Matt Challinor, barrelling over the touchline after a scintillating break by Dante Mama.
The second half didn’t bring a halt to the try fest as debutant flanker Joseva Nayacavou made an instant impact to place Doncaster on the front foot. From the set-piece Knights powered through the Bedford pack only to be collapsed illegally and give Dougie Flockhart the chance to add to his tally from a penalty try.
The Castle Park outfit registered two further impressive tries through Mama and Connor Braid to stay in the hunt, but Bedford proved too strong with two tries of their own through former Knight Neil Cochrane and Short to sink Doncaster to National Division One with a 38-26 defeat.
Bedford Blues: Ransom (Atkinson 73), Short, Burke, Dodge, Bassett (Sharp 76), Dorrian, Veenendaal (Baldwin 54), Fearn (Seal 45), Spurling (Cochrane 48), Boulton (Cooper 39), Howard, Tupai (Vandermolen 75), Gillanders, Fox, Fenton-Wells.
Tries: Spurling 8, 38, Dodge 19, 40, Cochrane 61, Short 66
Conv: Dorrian 8, 19, 38, 40
Doncaster Knights: Keating, Flockhart, Mama, Braid, Lewis, Lennard (Nayacavou 40), Hallam (Silver 64), Davies (Brown 51), Sowery, Francis (Hooper 64), Challinor, Parsons, Boyde (Bergmanas 64), Hafu, Kettle (Planchant 58).
Tries: Challinor 26, Penalty 44, Mama 51, Braid 69
Conv: Flockhart 26, 44, 51
Yellow Card: Hallam 36
Referee: David Rose
Attendance: 1, 552