Bristol Rugby 22 Doncaster Knights 33: Knights open B&I Cup account by ending Bristol’s unbeaten start to season

Two-try Will Owen, who lead Knights for the first time.  Picture Scott Merrylees
Two-try Will Owen, who lead Knights for the first time. Picture Scott Merrylees

Doncaster Knights kick-started their B & I Cup campaign with a bonus-point 33-22 win over Bristol Rugby at Ashton Gate.

The South Yorkshire side bounced back from a 41-17 beating by visiting Leinster A last week to inflict the first defeat of the season on the Championship leaders.

Bristol fielded a mixed side, but that could not be used as an excuse for injury-hit Knights were down to the bare bones in their back division and also started with a much-changed pack.

Knights got off to a flying start with fly-half Simon Humberstone kicking them into a third-minute lead after Bristol full-back Jack Wallace, who was also sin-binned, was penalised for a professional foul at a ruck.

There was more early joy for Doncaster supporters in the 7,000-plus crowd two minutes later, hooker Curtis Langdon touching down from a catch-and-drive.

The home side opened their account with a try by wing Aaron Chapman – his third in two B & I Cup games - following a blind-side move from a scrum.

Bristol drew level with a 14th minute penalty by fly-half Callum Sheedy after Doncaster second-rower Nick Civetta had been sin-binned for a high tackle.

Knights regained the lead towards the end of the first quarter when Humberstone kicked a second penalty.

Knights went close to a second try at the start of the second quarter. Wing Andy Bulumakau broke clear from inside his own half from an over-thrown lineout only to be tracked down by Wallace a metre short of the line.

With Civetta back on, Knights camped in the Bristol half prior to centre Will Owen crashing over from close range just short of the half-hour after Bristol had repelled several forward drives.

Humberstone added the extras to give his side an 18-8 lead.

Leading the side for the first time, Owen was over again three minutes later only to have the touchdown disallowed for a forward pass.

Good value for their ten-point interval lead, Knights wasted little time in extending it on the restart courtesy of a third Humberstone penalty.

There was more joy for the Castle Park side when wing Tyson Lewis supplied the finishing touches to a move started at a turnover just outside the Bristol 22 on 47 minutes.

Bristol hit back on 58 minutes when centre James Newey got on the end of a neat grubber-kick by scrum-half Ryan Glynn.

Sheedy tagged on the conversion from wide out to cut the deficit to eleven points with 20 minutes to go.

But Knights effectively killed off any comeback hopes Bristol may have entertained when Owen crossed for his second try, which Cusack converted to make it 33-15, following a wind-affected kick.

Bristol had the last word with a late converted try by youngster James Dun while Knights were down to 14 men for a third time.

Knights: Cusack, A Bulumakau, Hayes, Owen, Lewis, Humberstone, James; Evans, Langdon, Williams, Civetta, Hicks,Shaw, Jones, Hill. Rep: Bergmanus, Hunter, Sprotson, Challinor, Hills, Heaney, Wright.