THE Bulls flexed their promotion muscles with an impressive show of strength to knock League One pace-setters Doncaster off their perch.

Not many in the Keepmoat crowd may have dressed up for the club’s superhero day.

But the super men didn’t need capes and masks – they were in red and black as John Kear’s side delivered a serious message of intent.

It was not perfect – the Bulls wasted scoring opportunities, including one that George Flanagan will not want to see again after paying the price for show-boating.

But they battled hard to put a promotion rival in their place and open a crucial two-point advantage with a run of very winnable games to follow.

Victory was not enough for top spot as York leap-frogged both with their league record 144-0 blitz of hapless West Wales, who visit Odsal next.

But the Bulls will go into that one full of confidence from yesterday and ready to post their own points avalanche.

Kear had made four changes from the Challenge Cup exit at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

With Dalton Grant away because of a family bereavement, Jy Hitchcox returned to the side on the right wing. Club captain Lee Smith was recalled at centre.

James Laithwaite was back for his second loan outing as well as Dane Chisholm following a one-match ban. That meant a switch back to loose-forward for Elliot Minchella, who added two more tries to his impressive tally.

Brandon Pickersgill is set for an extended run at full back, the position he played for the under-19s, after Gregg McNally suffered a setback with his quad injury.

McNally could be out for up to another six weeks but on this evidence, Pickersgill will prove a worthy understudy.

There was no Joe Westerman in the home ranks, contrary to the rumours in the week, but Doncaster still boasted plenty of help from their dual-reg links with Hull FC.

Scottish international back-rower Frankie Mariano made his debut on the bench after signing as a free agent following his departure from Featherstone.

Kear had described Doncaster as a club on the up during the build-up and there is certainly a positive air around the Keepmoat. Season-ticket sales have trebled after prices were restricted to just £60 in an incentive scheme to hit four figures.

It is only four years since they finished fourth in the Championship and hopes are high of returning to the second tier after last season’s disappointing sixth-place finish.

The travelling army of Bulls fans were in great voice from the start as Doncaster were forced into an immediate goalline drop-out. They were ready to celebrate as Ethan Ryan looked to lunge in the corner but he was stopped a metre short.

Ashley Gibson was held up on the other side before the early pressure got its reward, Ryan claiming Chisholm’s angled kick to touch down for his fifth try of the season.

It took the hosts nearly ten minutes to get their first proper touch of the ball – and even then they remained pinned in their own territory.

Laithwaite tried to send in Pickersgill for a second score but the offload fell short, allowing Doncaster a much-needed respite.

But they blew a great chance to hit back in the 12th minute as stand-off Jack Miller led a charge upfield – only to waste it with a horrible pass that Keyes picked off on the bounce.

Former Bull Brandan Wilkinson was held up as he looked to go in under the posts but the Bulls’ goalline defence held firm despite conceding back-to-back penalties.

A strong push from Steve Crossley set up the Bulls once again before Minchella was held in the tackle, Keyes opting to take the shot at goal from 10 metres and adding two more to the lead.

The touch judge chalked off another Bulls effort as Smith and Chisholm combined with some nifty footwork to dribble their way through a gap.

Doncaster then slashed the Bulls advantage on 25 minutes as they caught the right side napping, Aaron Jones-Bishop stealing between Pickersgill and Hitchcox to claim Miller’s bouncing kick and get them on the scoreboard.

Doncaster had averaged only eight points conceded per game – but should have been punished with a second Bulls try as George Flanagan ran in under the sticks.

But instead of just putting the ball down, he opted to showboat – and was shoved out over the line by Jones-Bishop. It was a ridiculous blunder and you could sense Kear fuming from the touchline.

Fortunately the hooker made amends almost straight away with a grubber kick behind the line that Minchella was first to to reach for his 11th try.

Flanagan’s hot and cold spell continued as he picked up a loose ball and burrowed his way in by the post but dropped the ball in the act of scoring.

It was a missed opportunity and another followed straight from the restart. Pickersgill broke the line and looked sure to win the race to the posts but was dragged down and lost the ball in the tackle a metre out.

The Bulls kept up the pace and, after forcing a Doncaster mistake, top scorer Minchella made no mistakes as he stretched out to score.

Kear’s side had kicked up a gear and Mikey Wood followed with his first try in Bulls colours – and what a belter it was.

A move through six pairs of hands ended with a show-and-go from the Huddersfield youngster, allowing him to stroll in undisturbed.

The clinical start to the half had suddenly blown the tight contest wide open and Flanagan made it third time lucky when he finally finished one off after Laithwaite had blown open a hole.

The party could begin among the vociferous away support as a potential hurdle in the promotion race had been cleared by some distance.