THE Knights’ promotion play off campaign got off to the worst possible start as they were thrashed by rampant Bristol at Castle Park.
Brett Davey’s men conceded nine tries in being thoroughly outplayed by the Championship’s top side who demonstrated the full extent of their pace and power.
It all started so well for the Knights when Dougie Flockhart slotted over a penalty after just four minutes.
But that was to be the only score the hosts registered during a very difficult 80 minutes.
The atmosphere at Castle Park was flat as Bristol ran riot while the match officials were guilty of some strange decisions.
The Knights could feel aggrieved when Bristol opened their account as a couple of passes in spreading the ball wide looked to have been forward while Jack Tovey did not seem in full control of the ball when he touched down.
Bristol’s second try showcased their talents to a greater extent as they out-powered the Knights in a driving maul with Ross Johnston getting the touchdown, former Knight Tristan Roberts converting.
Flockhart was yellow carded and Bristol extended their lead with the advantage with Johnston added his second, converted by Roberts who then slotted a penalty on the half hour.
The Knight suffered another blow on 35 minutes when Chris Hallam was forced off with a shoulder injury.
Roberts slotted over another penalty in stoppage time before converting a penalty try in the last action of the half.
Though the Knights made a bright start to the second half, they were soon on the back foot and conceded another try with Johnston completing his hat trick.
Luke Eves raced over unchallenged on 58 minutes after fantastic ball work from Bristol with Roberts adding the conversion.
The Knights never really looked like scoring but their best attacking moment came when Dom Parsons broke and sent a punt through but lacked the pace to reach the ball.
Bristol’s best try came from Tua Otto following a fantastic breakaway started from a brilliant reverse pass and Matthew Jones added the conversion.
The Knights went down to 14 men when Alex Brown was forced off with a bad injury and all the replacements had been used.
But the numbers were levelled up for the remaining time when Bristol’s Marco Mama was yellow carded.
But Bristol would not relent and added insult to injury with two soft tries in stoppage time, Jones converting both.
Ben Glynn touched down the first with Tovey adding the second as he strolled through the Doncaster defence.
The final whistle brought an end to the Knights’ misery and left them with a mountain to climb if they are to qualify from the group stage.
Knights: Toft (Yeandle 59), Flockhart, Goss, Burdon, Keating, McDonogh (Boyde 49), Hallam (Heaney 35), Davies (Burke-Flynn 20), Boden (Noone 59), Alex Brown, Kenworthy (Challinor 49), Parsons, Makaafi, Farivarz, Planchant (Kettle 65).
Bristol: Goodridge, Tovey, Otto, Eves, Watkins (Helu 59), Roberts, Tipuna, Irish, Johnston (Harris-Wright 54), Hobson (Thompson 54), Townson, Winters (Glynn 54), Grieve, Mama, Montague.
Replacements: Vanderglas, Slater, Jones.