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By Ian Todd
December 2 2017

Bristol made hard work of overcoming a spirited Doncaster side.  The first half was a close run affair but Bristol's speed of execution and a ruthless edge saw them over the line and claim the try bonus point without ever looking entirely comfortable.


Doncaster kicked off the game and Bristol kept hold of the ball, going through several phases and then kicking out on the full. Bristol then gained possession by claiming the lineout. Bristol pressed forward, Doncaster were penalised and Ian Madigan put the first points on the board.

Bristol then indulged in some of the static passing that so infuriates some supporters promptly lost possession and Challinor, up in support, went over for a converted try for the hosts. Bristol tried to hit back and their task was made far easier when Doncaster gave away a penalty that Madigan sent spiralling into touch. The catch and drive went in and Jason Harris-Wright claimed the honours as the maul almost sprinted over the line.

Some banter on the terraces about a former centre of theirs around the issue of his passing game was terminated by a fine break from the individual under discussion. He made great ground with support on either side before being tackled and brought to ground. Hmm. It allowed Doncaster to apply some pressure and a penalty brought things level a few minutes from half time. Bristol had the last word though with a sweeping move launched from a poor Doncaster kick ahead Mat Protheroe tried to break through and only tackle around his collar held him back. Madigan stepped up and his kick on the stroke of half-time put Bristol three points up at the break.

Bristol were straight back on the scoreboard when Doncaster were penalised right in front of the posts with scarcely a minute of the second period played. However the visitors were pegged back when they conceded a penalty soon after. Bristol then riposted with a lovely try, a sudden injection of pace, quick hands and Rhodri Williams sprinted clear to dot down by the posts for a converted try to make it 13 – 23.

A really soft penalty gave Madigan another go at the posts to move Bristol further in front. Doncaster knocked on when trying to claim the restart and Bristol quickly moved the ball away from the scrum and made their way swiftly into the Doncaster half. The hosts were forced to give away a penalty and Bristol went for touch. It was no surprise at all to see Harris-Wright claim his second of the afternoon.

Doncaster were far from out of things and worked their way patiently forward and this time it was their turn for a sudden injection of raw pace to slice the defence open and Wilson lanced over in the corner for an unconverted try. Bristol still need another try for the bonus point and it looked as if Protheroe had scored only for the referee to rule the final pass had been forward. However another high tackle soon after meant that try-scorer Wilson went to the sin bin for the rest of the game and Bristol made the numbers count when Alapati Leiua romped in down the left wing for an unconverted try that left the final score at 18 – 38.


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02/12/2017 18:03
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knightandday (IP Logged)
02/12/2017 19:29
Hmm, thought it finished 18 43. but otherwise a fair report.

Didn't think you needed the help Sir gave you, ( high tackles and offside didn't appear to be officiated to the same degree). The two open play tries you scored were a joy to watch.

Clearly the best Championship side, but good enough for the Premiership, I'm not sure.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2017:12:02:19:29:55 by knightandday.

Rich. (IP Logged)
02/12/2017 20:59
Thanks Ian! Great to see some feedback (must be the first time the United game has got more feedback than the first XV game!). If ref helping us in this game then let's frame it!

airdog (IP Logged)
03/12/2017 07:03
you are right the team we fielded yesterday are not ready for the premiership but many of them will not feature next season and with the signings we know are coming and others confidently rumoured we will be be ready come September .
One downside of promotion is not visiting lovely proper rugby venues like Castle Park where yesterday as on the many other occasions I have been there the facilities and hospitality were first class .
Best of luck for the rest of the season

Furriner (IP Logged)
03/12/2017 08:21
It was Bris at their stumbling worst, except these days we can play like that and still come away with a 5-pointer.

The people around me in the stands were muttering it was the worst piece of officiating they’d ever seen. I’m not sure the ref was that wrong with his constant penalising of Donny’s pack. Even their supporters were saying that ‘Joe’ (presumably their loose head) was going down. A stronger pack would’ve really given us something to worry about.

JamboBris (IP Logged)
03/12/2017 10:08
Wonderful hospitality at Donny yesterday. My first trip up there and one that was thoroughly enjoyable. Great pie too!

Rinkadink (IP Logged)
03/12/2017 11:16
A ref favouring us?

This cold snap must be pretty bad, even in hell.

Monkey1 (IP Logged)
03/12/2017 19:53
I popped along to see that game, sort of as a neutral although hollering for Bris.

The Doncaster team looked like they wanted to win, right up to the last play of the game. The Bristol team just looked like they didn't want to be there.

The Doncaster No.8 was their captain, and what a superb job he did. From start to finish he was keeping his team together, yelling encouragement, the focus of a great team spirit that spread throughout the team. You couldn't even tell who was the Bris captain.

During breaks in play, the Doncaster players huddled up, encouraged each other, looked lively. During breaks in play the Bris players looked bored, hardly talked to each other.

Despite all of this, Bris still won comfortably, although the first half is something best forgotten. That attitude may work in the Championship, but even on a very bad day, any Prem team, and I mean any of them, would have stuffed at least 50 unopposed points past that Bristol team.

My guess is that Pat Lam is still trying things out, finding out what sort of horses he has in his stable, and that means a lot of jiggling about with players, teams that are not entirely comfortable with each other, teams that act as described above. I would expect to see more stability in the new year as he homes in on a core team, and despite some comments that none of this matters, on the contrary, to stand any chance at all of being competitive in the Premiership next season, you need to see that core team emerging during the latter half of this season. The same core team (plus or minus a few) that will take you into next season. By the final games they should be more like the Doncaster team, non-stop communication, a close team spirit, looking like a real team rather than a collection of players. If anybody can achieve this it is Pat Lam.

Team spirit, self-belief, and commitment to their team mates is what will make a proper machine from a collection of players. Signing new players in key positions can help, but you need the basic structure in place long before the summer.

The next game we might get to is Rotherham in March, and I would like to think that by then we will be watching a totally different team, no trace of yesterday's first half, 15 players on the pitch who look hungry for the win. If you see that emerging as the season rumbles on, you can have some confidence about next season.

Oh, and the pie, as promised, was divine.

Motherrucker1982 (IP Logged)
03/12/2017 20:33
Thank you for your time and comments Monkey1 (both above and on your own Falcons forum). You are of course entitled to your opinion and I respect it as thus however, if you ask any of us Bristol fans, we would probably beg to differ. Yes, we're by no means even close to the finished article but we appear to have developed a bond/togetherness that has been missing from our playing side for sometime. Also, we now have a steely determination that has been in short supply in previous seasons - we'd have lost that game at Donny as they really took it to us. I will say though that we are building and your claim to run in '50 unanswered points' against us will unfortunately not be allowed to pass just yet. We'll hopefully pick this up next year should we win promotion and I truely hope it'll be a pie of the humble variety you're enjoying should we meet!!
That said - cracking win at Sinners on the weekend....
C'mon Bris!!!

Monkey1 (IP Logged)
03/12/2017 20:56
Perhaps I wrote in too much haste MR1982. I was not criticising in any way, merely pointing out that the team that played yesterday is unlikely to resemble the team that plays by the end of the season. Pretty much the same players may be on the pitch, but by the time Pat Lam has finished with them, they will look very different indeed.

I really do think you have the man there who will do the job, but don't judge his progress by what you see on the pitch just yet.

Good luck & enjoy the ride.

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