THE first game of the Friday Knight Lights era may have ended in the defeat but Doncaster put in a highly impressive performance against last season’s table toppers.
A superb defensive effort in the first half was followed by a second period largely on the front foot.
And while they went close, the Knights failed to break down the visitors.
Jamie Lennard opened the scoring for the Knights with a long range penalty but Bristol it back shortly afterwards with the game’s first try.
A maul powered over the line with Ross Johnston adjudged to have touched down, former Knight Tristan Roberts converting.
The defensive effort from the Knights was excellent in the first half and they dealt with the rapid attack of the visitors very well, forcing a string of errors.
But there was little they could do about Bristol’s second try.
A big kick over the top took an incredibly lucky bounce to send the ball into the hands of Ryan Edwards just a yard from the line to dive over.
The Knights’ only strong foray into the opposition half came late in the first period and an infringement allowed Lennard to slot over his second penalty.
The margin was cut further in the opening seconds of the second as the Knights forced a penalty straight from the kick, Lennard successful with his effort.
Bristol continued to make errors in the early stage of the second half but soon hit back with a penalty of their own from Roberts.
The second half was very much a war of attrition, with the Knights in the opposition half for the majority.
Strong chances were at a premium but Brett Davey’s side were certainly unlucky not to go over the line.
It took Bristol until the final five minutes to truly clear their lines and they gave themselves breathing space in the last minute with a penalty from Matt Jones.
Knights: 15 Flockhart, 14 Mama, 13 Tincknell, 12 Simpson, 11 Lewis, 10 Lennard, 9 Silver (Hallam 77), 1 Davies (Cronin, 46), 2 Buckley (Sowerey, 77), 3 McGovern, 4 Cadman (Boyde, 54), 5 Hoy, 6 Challinor, 7 Rawling (Bradford, 64), 8 Kettle (Pailor, 68).
Replacements: 16 Cronin, 17 Sowerey, 18 Boyde, 19 Bradford, 20 Hallam, 21 Barrett, 22 Pailor.
Bristol: 15 Goodridge, 11 Tagicakibau, 13 Eves, 12 Gadd (Mosses, 70), 14 Edwards, 10 Roberts (Jones, 64), 9 Tipuna, 1 Traynor, 2 Johnston (Lawrence, 59), 3 Douglas, 4 Glynn, 5 Winters, 6 Pennycock, 7 Merriman, Eadie.
Replacements: 16 Lawrence, 17 Thompson, 18 Towson, 19 Uren, 20 Slater, 21 Jones, 22 Mosses.