- The Championship
- Saturday, December 2nd 2017
- Castle Park
Will Carpenter reports from Castle Park
Report: Doncaster Knights 18-38 Bristol Rugby
Saturday, December 2nd 2017
Alapati Leiua’s 78th-minute try sealed an all-important bonus point as Bristol Rugby stormed to a 38-18 win over a gritty Doncaster Knights at Castle Park on Saturday.
The Samoan, on his return from international duty, rounded off a sweeping set-piece move with a trademark powerful finish in the left-hand corner, to ensure Bristol left south Yorkshire with the full allocation.
Earlier, Jason Harris-Wright’s 19th-minute try – the first of two for the hooker – and eight points from the boot of Ian Madigan gave Pat Lam’s side a three-point lead at the interval, after Matt Challinor’s score had given Doncaster first blood.
But the visitors rammed home their advantage after the break, as Rhodri Williams’ tenth of the season, Harris-Wright’s second of the afternoon and two more Madigan penalties - for an 18-point personal haul - put Bristol in full control.
Curtis Wilson powered over for Doncaster’s second 13 minutes from time, before Leiua’s late show secured a tenth successive bonus-point win for the visitors, who remain eight points clear at the top.
Samoan duo Chris Vui and Alapati Leiua returned as Pat Lam made four changes to the side that beat Nottingham, with Mat Protheroe and Soane Tonga’uiha also named in the starting line-up at Castle Park.
Ian Madigan’s fourth-minute penalty fired Bristol into an early lead, but they soon found themselves behind when the Irishman’s clearance was charged down by Mat Scott and Matt Challinor barged his way over from close range, with Simon Humberstone adding the extras.
Doncaster’s lead only lasted four minutes, as Jason Harris-Wright applied the finishing touches to a robust driving maul, after captain Crane had opted to kick a penalty to the corner.
Madigan converted before Humberstone replied for Doncaster with a well-struck penalty to level the scores five minutes before half time.
The Irishman continued his red-hot form from the tee with penalties either side of the interval, but Humberstone’s second penalty kept Doncaster within striking distance.
Not for long though, as Mat Protheroe collected Jordan Williams’ stabbed kick through and located the supporting Rhodri Williams, whose sprint to the line took the Welshman into double figures for the season.
Madigan, again, converted before adding a third penalty as Bristol opened up a 13-point lead – and the fly half then added the extras after Harris-Wright had rumbled over for his second on the hour mark.
Curtis Wilson’s burly finish in the right-hand corner bought Doncaster back into contention on 67 minutes, but the wing’s afternoon came to an early conclusion when he was sin-binned for a high tackle on Siale Piutau.
With a numerical advantage, Bristol went in search of the bonus-point score and found it two minutes from time, when replacements Billy Searle and Siale Piutau combined to send a steamrolling Alapati Leiua over in the corner for a five-point finale.
Just three points separated the sides when Simon Humberstone landed his second penalty on 45 minutes. But Bristol soon sprung into life with 17 points in ten minutes, as tries from Rhodri Williams and Jason Harris-Wright - and seven points from Ian Madigan - dealt the knockout blow at Castle Park.
Man of the match: Joe Joyce
In an attritional contest, Joyce’s accomplished performance topped the bill in a fine bonus-point win on the road.
The lock’s ability to find space in the wider channels created numerous opportunities for the visitors, while his set-piece work gave Bristol a strong platform from which to attack.
But it wasn’t just in attack where Joyce prospered, this was an impressive all-round display from the Bristolian, who tackled well around the fringes and disrupted the hosts’ lineout on more than one occasion.
Photo of the match:
Social media post of the day:
Bristol Rugby: Mat Protheroe; Jordan Williams, Will Hurrell (Siale Piutau 46), Tusi Pisi (Ben Gompels 77), Alapati Leiua; Ian Madigan (Billy Searle 59), Rhodri Williams (Andy Uren 77); Soane Tonga’uiha (Nicky Thomas 49), Jason Harris-Wright, Gaston Cortes (Ryan Bevington 49), Joe Joyce, Chris Vui, Sam Jeffries, Dan Thomas, Jordan Crane (c) (Jack Lam 46).
Replacements: Ben Gompels, Ryan Bevington, Nicky Thomas, Jack Lam, Andy Uren, Billy Searle, Siale Piutau.
Doncaster Knights: Cameron Cowell, Curtis Wilson, Mat Clark, Will Owen, Tyson Lewis, Simon Humberstone, Michael Heaney; Richard List, Ben Hunter, Joe Sproston, Matt Challinor, Morgan Eames, Alex Shaw, Michael Hills (c), Jason Hill.
Replacements; Jack Bergmanas, Owen Evans, Colin Quigley, Curtis Langdon, Adam Batt, Tom James, Declan Cusack.
- Challinor, Wilson
- Humberstone (2)
- Yellow Cards:
- Harris-Wright (2), Leiua, Williams
- Madigan (3)
- Madigan (4)
- Yellow Cards: