Doncaster Knights dropped to eighth in the Championship following their 38-18 defeat at home to leaders Bristol and other results going against them yesterday.
Yet despite the fact Knights still haven’t won in the league since the end of September there is renewed optimism at Castle Park following Saturday’s spirited showing.
“It was a good performance against a very good Bristol side full of internationals and the only reason they beat us by 20 points was the penalty count because they only scored two more tries than we did,” said Knights boss Clive Griffiths.
“We defended a lot better than we had done in the defeat at Ealing and we restricted them to just four tries, two of which came from driving mauls which are very difficult to defend near your own line.
“Their last try scored by their winger near the end came when we were down to 14 men as a result of Curtis Wilson, who had been marking him, having been sin-binned for a high tackle.
“We’ve finished empty-handed again but the players had a real dig whereas we were all at sea the week before.
“Unfortunately we are still making the same mistakes, such as being stripped of the ball in contact at times, dumb penalties for things like shoulder charges and we could lose a couple of boys because of that.
“But as I say, there were a lot of positives and as a team we showed a lot of character.
“Richard List, for instance, put his hand up to play despite going down with a bug earlier in the week.”
The game marked the first outing in a Doncaster shirt this season for centre Mat Clark, following his freak training ground injury sustained at the end of last season.
“It was good to see Mat back in the side,” said Griffiths.