- British and Irish Cup
- Saturday, January 13th 2018
- Castle Park
Will Carpenter reports from Castle Park
Report: Doncaster Knights 32-37 Bristol United
Saturday, January 13th 2018
Tom Varndell and Nick Haining made try-scoring returns from injury as Bristol United kicked off the new year with a 37-32 bonus-point victory over Doncaster Knights at Castle Park in the British and Irish Cup.
Varndell touched down either side of half time, while Haining struck midway through the first period, after Joe Batley’s stunning 70-metre interception had opened the scoring in south Yorkshire.
Tries from Paul Jarvis, Joe Sproston and Declan Cusack saw Doncaster within three points at the interval, before Jack Tovey’s individual effort early in the second half sealed the bonus-point for Bristol.
Lesley Klim’s debut score gave Knights the lead for the first time on 52 minutes, but Varndell’s second – a trademark interception – proved enough for the visitors, who overcame late yellow cards for Will Hurrell and Nick Haining to seal victory.
It was Knights who began the game on the front foot, but Bristol who opened the scoring when Joe Batley snaffled Declan Cusack’s pass to race in for a remarkable score from just outside his own 22.
Protheroe then looked to fall awkwardly when carrying into contact and after a long delay, the youngster left the field on a stretcher, replaced by Ryan Edwards.
Callum Sheedy converted and knocked over a penalty five minutes later, as Bristol opened up a ten-point lead, but the hosts hit back when Paul Jarvis collected Cusack’s long pass to dart in the corner.
Nick Haining marked his return to action with a strong finish in the right-hand corner on 22 minutes, after Andy Uren’s dummy and break from inside his own half put the visitors on the front foot.
Doncaster hit back again with Joe Sproston powering over from close range, but the game’s back-and-forth nature continued, as Varndell applied an expert finish to a sweeping counter attack.
Nick Fenton-Wells and Jack Cosgrove became further casualties of a physical first half at Castle Park, before Lesley Klim’s surge saw Declan Cusack coast over to bring Knights within three points at the break.
After six tries in the first half, three more followed in the second, with Tovey scoring the first within seven minutes of the restart, picking a delightful line in midfield to gallop in from 40 metres.
Cusack’s penalty narrowed the gap again, while Klim’s debut try on the hour edged Doncaster in front for the first time in the match.
But their lead didn’t last long. Joe Sproston was sent to the sin bin for illegally halting a Bristol charge and Sheedy knocked over the resulting penalty for a one-point advantage.
Varndell’s predatory interception saw him collect his second and Bristol’s fifth 15 minutes from tim- and despite Will Hurrell and Nick Haining going to the sin-bin in quick succession, Doncaster could only muster a Michael Heaney penalty from the closing stages, as the 13-man visitors held on for a five-point win on the road.
With Doncaster down to 14 men after Joe Sproston’s yellow card, Tom Varndell’s trademark interception - as the Knights looked to start another sweeping attack - opened up a nine-point lead and saw Bristol capitalise on their one-man advantage.
It was the visitors’ second interception of the afternoon, following Joe Batley’s stunning 11th-minute score.
Man of the match: Nick Haining
A superb return to action for the Western Australian, playing his first game since September.
The former Jersey man was in inspired form at Castle Park, flying off the line to make some important tackles in the defensive line, with one such hit leading to Joe Batley’s opening score.
Haining also grabbed a try of his own, courtesy of a fine supporting line and a superb break from Andy Uren, to cap an impressive individual display.
Photo of the match:
Social media post of the day:
Bristol Rugby: Mat Protheroe (Ryan Edwards 14); David Lemi, Jack Tovey, Will Hurrell, Tom Varndell; Callum Sheedy (Billy Searle 59), Andy Uren (Ryan Glynn 70); Jack Cosgrove (Jack O’Connell 28), Nick Fenton-Wells (Ben Gompels 27), Sione Faletau (Ollie Dawe 75), Joe Batley (Giorgi Nemsadze 75), Joe Latta, Nick Haining, Sam Graham (Chippenham RFC), Jordan Crane (c).
Replacements: Ben Gompels, Jack O’Connell, Ollie Dawe, Giorgi Nemsadze, Ryan Glynn, Billy Searle, Ryan Edwards.
Doncaster Knights: Paul Jarvis, Curtis Wilson, Lesley Klim, Mat Clark, Tyson Lewis, Declan Cusack, Tom James, Jack Bergmanas, Ben Hunter, Joe Sproston, Morgan Eames, Tom Hicks, Jack Ram, Michael Hills ©, Jason Hill
Replacements: David Nelson, Richard List, Ian Williams, Adam Batt, Alex Shaw, Michael Heaney, Charlie Foley.
- Sproston, Cusack, Klim, Jarvis
- Cusack (3)
- Cusack, Heaney
- Yellow Cards:
- Batley, Haining, Varndell (2), Tovey
- Sheedy (3)
- Sheedy (2)
- Yellow Cards:
- Haining, Hurrell