Doncaster Knights fell at the 13th hurdle for the second time this season as their 12-match unbeaten league record came to an end as Bristol rained on their Easter parade at Castle Park.
Knights, whose 12-match unbeaten league and cup run came to an end in their final B&I Cup pool game on the same ground back in January, suffered a last-minute 31-29 defeat against the leaders.
Victory for Bristol, unbeaten on the road in the league this season, effectively secured them top spot for the third season in succession.
“Even if we had beaten them they would still have had to lose two of their final three and that was never going to happen,” said Doncaster boss Clive Griffiths.
“We’ve got to concentrate now on retaining second spot and to do that we’ve probably got to win two of our remaining games but if we play like we did today we’ll be hard to beat.
“To get just two points out of the game having played like we did was a joke and to lose in that fashion is gut wrenching.
“We weren’t perfect and there were one or two things we didn’t do well, and we lost momentum at times in the second half. But our efforts deserved better. We scored some very good tries and some of our defence was outstanding.”
He added: “As I said before the game, we respect Bristol but we don’t fear them, and I feel the same way now. I just hope that we play them again in the play-offs.”