By Joe Harvey
September 8 2012
In contrast to last season's swaggering play-off performance, Bristol just about did enough to clinch their first points of the season. An error strewn performance and a poor second half did little to suggest that the injury plagued visitors will be troubling the top of the table come this season’s play-offs. A couple of individuals did manage to rise above the general level of mediocrity but overall this was a poor performance with Bristol just about doing enough to deserve the spoils.
All the early play was from the Knights and they took a deserved lead from a well struck Lennard penalty. But this early pressure was weathered by the visitors who took control of the game by way of their forwards. Good driving play forced a succession of penalties, and might have earned a yellow card, that perhaps surprisingly former Knight Roberts sent to touch. Finally the Bristol pack mauled their way over the line for a try attributed to Johnston, converted by Roberts.
Despite the obvious strength of their pack, Bristol looked most dangerous when they moved the ball quickly. Pennycook, who looked good for much of the game, set Gadd free only for the superb defensive effort to haul him down. The young centre seemed to have scored soon after but play was called back for a forward pass. The hosts were perhaps fortunate in this period that Bristol made so many errors. The luck was against them though when winger Edwards collected the most fortunate of bounces and touched down out wide. Lennard struck another penalty from virtually the Knights only visit to Bristol’s half, after the first ten minutes or so, and left the half-time score at 6 – 12.
Bristol would have hoped to be further ahead given their territorial dominance and doubts may well have started to creep in when Lennard kicked another successful penalty just seconds into the half. Bristol’s play looked very ragged at times and their nerves did not settle despite another penalty from Roberts.
The match continued in a scrappy and uninspired way, but with the Knights definitely getting the better of things, despite a couple of half chances coming the way of the Bristol full back and their winger Tagicakibau. Increasingly the visitors were forced onto the defensive and were perhaps lucky that Doncaster’s handling at crucial times was just as shaky as their own.
Bristol were under the cosh for most of the second period but were finally able to pull clear in the last minutes of the game with a well taken penalty from replacement Jones that unjustly took the game beyond the hosts grasp at 9 - 18.