Magnificent Doncaster Knights upset the odds to beat Bristol 27-22 in a rousing B & I Cup semi-final at Castle Park.
In becoming only the second team this season to beat their Championship rivals. Knights ended a run of eight defeats against the former Premiership club.
They will again start underdogs when they host leaders Worcester in the final on Good Friday. But if they can reproduce this sort of performance in their first ever major final the Warriors will have to play very well to beat them.
Knights’ defensive performance was outstanding – typified by a superb try-saving tackle by centre Mat Clark on wing David Lami which denied the Samoan World Cup star a second half try in the corner.
Bristol lacked some of their star names but they would still have beaten most sides on the day and there is no doubt they came to win.
They got off to a flying start with flanker Nick Koster touching down in the corner after just 57 seconds. Fly-half Nicky Robinson’s touchline conversion just sneaked over.
Knights drew level when prop Richard List touched down from a driving maul and February’s Championship Player of the Month, Dougie Flockhart, added the extras.
Both sides exchanged penalties before No 8 Ollie Steadman brought the crowd to their feet after intercepting Robinson’s pass 60 metres out and having the courage to back himself to go all the way.
His clever kick almost produced a second half try for Flockhart.
Bristol conceded a number of penalties and were reduced to 14 men just before the break when prop Anthony Perenise was sin-binned.
Charlie Amesbury crossed in the corner on 43 minutes following some slick handling from a maul to leave his side just two points adrift.
Flockhart gave his side more breathing space with a second penalty and he was also on target when skipper Michael Hills touched down from a solid driving maul on 52 minutes to make it 27-15.
Knights full-back Paul Jarvis was sin-binned on 55 minutes and Flockhart missed a 64th minute penalty attempt before Bristol No 8 Mitch Eadie threw his side a lifeline, brushing off two defenders to score a converted try three minutes later.
Bristol piled on the pressure in a nail-biting finale but Knights deservedly held out.
Knights: Jarvis; Flockhart,Clark, Armitage,Tyson;Fosita, Field; List,Veikoso, John, Hotson, Phelan, Hills, Stedman. Rep: Davies. Bergmanas,Makaafi, Quigley, Foden, Roberts.Bravo.
Bristol: Wallace; Amesbury, Tovey, Moses, Lemi; Robinson, Hampson; Traynor, McMillan, Perenise, Jones, Glynn, Koster,Lam. Eadie. Rep: Lawrence, Cortes, Joyce, Ovens, Turner, Jarvis, Watkins.