Doncaster Knights saw their outside hopes of topping Pool 2 in the B&I Cup, which would have guaranteed them a place in the quarter-finals, dashed when going down 37-32 at home to Bristol.
Knights are now one of a handful of clubs chasing the best three runners-up spots on the final weekend of fixtures: “It’s a game that we should have won, as was the case against Yorkshire Carnegie in the league, and we’ve blown it,” said team boss Clive Griffiths. “Things aren’t going for us at the moment.”
Despite feeling that his side had generally defended well, Griffiths was critical of the fact that his side had ‘gifted’ Bristol two of their four tries with interceptions.
He also claimed that wing Tom Varndell’s first half-try should have been disallowed for an infringement at the turnover.
Griffiths had hoped to secure the club’s position in the knockout stages ahead of the testing trip to Leinster A and fielded his strongest available side.
But his plans to play fit-again centre Andy Bulumakau suffered a blow late in the week when he took a knock in training,
Bulumakau’s absence, and that of Will Owen who recently had a routine knee operation, gave Griffiths the opportunity to give a debut to Namibian international Lesley Klim.
“He’s only been with us a matter of weeks but I thought he was one of our shining lights,” said the Welshman.
“He showed some of the other boys who have been here for a while the way to go.”
Commenting the team’s failure to win a number of their own lineouts close to the Bristol line in the final quarter following changes, Griffiths said: “All the forwards train together every day and whoever comes onto the field it should be a seamless transition. They all know the calls so there can be no excuses.”