Bristol Grind Out Knights Victory
Bristol Rugby 26-18 Doncaster Knights
Bristol Rugby ground out a 26-18 victory over Doncaster Knights at the Memorial Stadium to move into the RFU Championship top four.
Liam Middleton’s side – who have now won six games in succession - scored two second half tries through Mitch Eadie and George Watkins in front of the biggest crowd of the season on Sunday.
It was Doncaster who started brightly but, despite controlling the early territory, the Knights couldn’t find a way through and the deadlock was eventually broken by Adrian Jarvis’ penalty goal after ten minutes.
The Bristol fly half slotted another three-pointer soon after, before Jamie Lennard halved the deficit with a long-range effort.
Jarvis failed with a penalty attempt from the angle, but the fly-half made amends with a successful strike minutes later to restore the six point advantage.
In a scrappy first period, Lennard skewed an effort wide of the upright, before keeping Doncaster in touch at 9-6 with a simple penalty goal.
Bristol came close to crossing for a first try when Glen Townson was held up over the line after a strong spell of forward pressure, but the visitors clung on to survive until the interval unscathed.
Liam Middleton’s men made the perfect start to the second period when Mitch Eadie dabbed down for a converted try after a powerful driving lineout.
Doncaster almost hit back immediately, going close through prop Tom Davies, but Bristol’s defence held firm and the hosts went further ahead when Jarvis added a penalty goal, moving his side into a 19-6 lead.
James Grindal’s quick-thinking created a George Watkins try midway through the half as Bristol began to seize the initiative. The replacement scrum half spotted an overlap and, with the Knights defence napping, Watkins darted over in the corner.
The visitors set up a nervy finale when the impressive Connor Braid and Chris Planchant crossed in quick succession to put Doncaster in touching distance of a losing bonus point.
However, Jamie Lennard’s last-gasp drop goal sailed wide, and Bristol came away with a 26-18 victory, finding themselves in the top four for the first time this season.
Jack Tovey; George Watkins, Luke Eves, Jack Gadd, David McIlwaine; Adrian Jarvis, Ruki Tipuna (c); Kyle Traynor, Ross Johnston, Jason Hobson, Mariano Sambucetti, Glen Townson, Alafoti Faosiliva, Redford Pennycook, Mitch Eadie.
Replacements: Rhys Lawrence (for Ross Johnston, 62 mins), Bruce Douglas (for Jason Hobson, 62 mins), Ben Glynn (for Mariano Sambucetti, 53 mins), Marco Mama (for Redford Pennycook, 62 mins), James Grindal (for Ruki Tipuna, 66 mins), Tristan Roberts (for Adrian Jarvis, 66 mins), Fautua Otto (for Jack Gadd, 62 mins).
Connor Braid; Dante Mama, Andy Symons, Will Simpson, Tyson Lewis; Jamie Lennard, Chris Hallam; Tom Davies, Rhys Buckley, Keiron Brookes, Matt Challinor (c), Phil Hoy, Adam Kettle, Jethro Rawling, Chris Planchant.
Replacements: Will Hafu (for Rhys Buckley, 62 mins), Tomas Francis (for Keiron Brookes, 57 mins), Brian McGovern, James Tincknell (for Andy Symons, 74 mins), Sam Pailor (for Adam Kettle, 44 mins), Louis Silver (for Chris Hallam, 75 mins), Dougie Flockhart (for Tyson Lewis, 75 mins).
Referee: John Meredith