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Knights brush aside Bristol to reach final

Doncaster Knights 27 Bristol Rugby 22

Doncaster Knights pull off a stunning, against the odds victory to knock Championship league leaders Bristol out of the British and Irish Cup.

The Knights welcomed Bristol to Castle Park for the second of back-to-back home clashes against the West Country, this time bidding for a place in the British and Irish Cup Final. The Club had never previously reached the final and in Bristol they faced a side that had lost just once all season.

The task was made even harder after a disastrous opening couple of minutes. Having fielded the kick off a large looming up and under was returned down the blindside by winger Bris David Lemi. The Knights defence was caught napping and Lemi found flanker Nick Koster in support who raced away and touched down. Nicky Robinson added the extras and the Knights found themselves 7-0 behind with the game barely a minute old.

Thankfully, things got considerably better after the initial shock and the Knights took confidence from their destructive driving lineout. A series of drives multiple produced penalties and when Fosita put the forwards in the corner another well formed maul saw Donny drive infield and eventually over the line. Richard List emerged with the ball and Dougie Flockhart made no mistake with the conversion, 7-7 after ten minutes.

The rest of the first half was very level; Bristol arguably enjoyed the better of territory and with the wind were able to nullify any good play from the Knights with some astute kicking. The visitors did create pressure with ball in hand also and added to their total with a penalty when the Knights were pinged for not releasing.

More pressure for the Knights came shortly after when they gave up a free kick at a scrum on their own five metre which was taken quickly. Jack Lam crashed towards the Knights line but was held up in goal. From the following scrum Ume Fosita did fantastically to drop on a loose ball and kick clear.

The scores were level once again shortly after when referee Andrew Jackson brought play back for a penalty just as it looked as Flockhart might be about to break. The winger was successful with the kick, 10-10.

With ten minutes left to go in the first half the Championship league leaders began to turn to the screw and attacked smartly but just as the visitors clicked in to top gear the Knights struck. Great vision from Ollie Stedman saw the back rower intercept a Nicky Robinson pass and set off from 60 metres. With Jack Wallace and Charlie Amesbury in pursuit the number eight looked for support before putting his foot down to gallop over the line. Flockhart converted to give the Knights a ten-point lead.

The visitors created more chances before the half but it was the Knights who ended on the front foot. More dominant play by the Knights pack at the line out brought more penalties and a yellow card for tight head Anthony Perenise.

With a ten point and one man advantage the signs were positive for Donny but a start to the second period that mirrored the first quickly brought them back down to earth. Vili Veikoso broke impressively up field but a lack of support saw a penalty awarded to Bristol and Nicky Robinson kicked to the corner.

Now it was the turn of the visitors to employ the rolling maul, sucking in Knights forwards before zipping possession out wide with impressive speed. Tyson Lewis and Paul Jarvis tried to scramble across but were unable to prevent Amesbury from crossing in the corner.

Flockhart added his second penalty of the game moments after for an immediate response by the Knights following an infringement at the restart by Bris.

The penalty sparked the Knights back into life and when Brad Field produced an inch perfect box kick that bounced to touch just short of the Bristol Line Jon Phelan leaped the highest to steal possession. After a couple of attacking phases Stedman sent a clever grubber kick towards Dougie Flockhart’s wing. Scrum half Craig Hampson raced across to kick the ball dead and give the Knights another lineout from close range. Having secured possession, unsurprisingly the ball was kept in the pack and they rumbled towards the try line at a rate of knots. Urged on by the vocal home support the forwards crashed into the goal area with skipper Michael Hills touching down, Dougie added the extras to make the score 27-15.

Bristol are not top of the league by chance and for the games closing quarter the Knights were subjected to a barrage of attacks. Time and time again the hosts came forward, notable surges coming from Ben Mosses and David Lemi but time and time again the Knights defence rose to the challenge. Mat Clark and Tyson Lewis both making tackles to prevent what would have been certain tries. Paul Jarvis was lost to the sin bin for slowing the ball on the floor but it wasn’t until the 67th minute that Bristol added to their score.

The continual waves of attack eventually took their toll when number eight Mitch Eadie slipped a tackle and raced over. Robinson converted to cut the gap to just five points and with time left on the clock.

The final ten minutes made for agonizing viewing for the home fans as a series of penalties, knocks on and scrums occurred deep in Donny territory but their resolve wouldn’t be broken. Superb work on the floor by the back row forced a penalty out of Eadie and it was fitting that the Knights saw the game out with a driving line out, having had such success with it all game. The hosts drove up to the half way before recycling the ball and carrying through the pack to eat up the clock. With final play called Bruno Bravo hoofed the ball into the De Mulder Lloyd stand to confirm the Knights place in the final.

A fantastic day for all connected to the Club and it means the Knights will take on Worcester in the British and Irish Cup final on Good Friday [KO 17:10] in front of the Sky Sport cameras.

 

Knights XV 15) Paul Jarvis, 14) Dougie Flockhart, 13) Mat Clark, 12) Bevon Armitage, 11) Tyson Lewis, 10) Ume Fosita, 9) Brad Field (Bruno Bravo 73’), 1) Richard List (Tom Davies 62’), 2) Vili Veikoso (Jack Bergmanas 71’), 3) WillGriff John (Colin Quigley 69’), 4) Tyler Hotson, 5) Jon Phelan, 6) Phil Eggleshaw (Latu Makaafi 58’), 7) Michael Hills, 8) Ollie Stedman.

Replacements; 16) Tom Davies, 17) Jack Bergmanas, 18) Latu Makaafi, 19) Colin Quigley, 20) Will Foden, 21) Paul Roberts, 22) Bruno Bravo.

Tries; List 9’, Stedman 32’, Hills 52’

Conv; Flockhart 9’, ’32, 52’

Pens; Flockhart 25, 45’

Sin bin; Paul Jarvis 54’

Bristol Rugby

15) Jack Wallace, 14) Charlie Amesbury, 13) Jack Tovey, 12) Ben Mosses, 11) David Lemi (George Watkins 60’), 10) Nicky Robinson, 9) Craig Hampson, 1) Kyle Traynor, 2) Ross McMillan (Rhys Lawrence 64’), 3) Anthony Perenise (Gaston Cortes 55’), 4) Ryan Jones (c), 5) Ben Glynn, 6) Nick Koster, 7) Jack Lam, 8) Mitch Eadie.

 

Replacements; 16) Rhys Lawrence, 17) Gaston Cortes, 18) Joe Joyce, 19) Josh Ovens, 20) Tim Turner, 21) Adrian Jarvis, 22) George Watkins.

 

Tries; Koster 1’, Amesbury 43’, Eadie 67’

Conv; Robinson 2’, 67’

Pens; Robinson 18’

Sin bin; Perenise.

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