GKIPA Championship preview - Round 18

04/03/2014

GREENE KING IPA Championship league leaders Bristol Rugby will be hoping home form holds sway again on Sunday when they take on Cornish Pirates at the Memorial Stadium. The last eight matches between the sides have been won by the home side, Bristol coming out on top, 29-17, in the corresponding fixture in 2012/13.

Only Leeds Carnegie have come away from the Memorial Stadium with the spoils of victory in the Championship this season, and Andy Robinson's men will be favourites to extend that run against a Pirates side that has failed to win on the road in their last four fixtures in all competitions. Both of the Pirates' 'home' games against Bristol this season were closely-fought affairs, the Pirates kicking off the Sandy Park leg of the 'Big Rugby Weekend' event with a 23-21 win before edging another tight contest, 21-15, at the Mennaye Field.

Leeds Carnegie's push for a home semi-final in the play-offs continues on Saturday with a visit to relegation-threatened Jersey. Leeds won 29-13 when the sides met at Headingley earlier in the season. Jersey are seven points off the bottom of the table.

The only other game on Saturday sees Bedford play at home for the first time in exactly a month when they take on Plymouth Albion at Goldington Road. Blues had to overturn a 13-3 half-time deficit to beat Plymouth when the sides met at Brickfields back in November. Blues have only lost once in their last 12 outings against Albion.

In beating Bedford 24-13 last weekend, Moseley have won more games (seven) than ever before in the Championship's current 12-team format. Only two of those wins have come away from Billesley Common, though, and they face another tough road test on Sunday with a game against title hopefuls London Welsh.

London Scottish will be bidding for a hat-trick of wins over old National One rivals Ealing Trailfinders at the Athletic Ground on Sunday. Dan Newton converted all five of the Exiles' tries and kicked three penalties when they defeated Ealing 44-13 on the opening day of the season at Allianz Park, and they followed that up in Round 9 with a 36-10 victory at Vallis Way.

Sunday's remaining games sees Nottingham up against Rotherham Titans at Meadow Lane.  Titans won 27-16 in last season's corresponding fixture and boast 12 wins to Nottingham's eight in the all-time overall league head-to-head stats. However, Nottingham will count themselves unlucky not to have won at Clifton Lane earlier in the season, five missed penalties and a conversion costing them dear as Rotherham scraped home 17-11.

Round 18 fixtures

Saturday March 8th
Bedford Blues v Plymouth Albion, KO 15:00
Jersey v Leeds Carnegie, KO 15:00

Sunday March 9th
London Welsh v Moseley, KO 12:00
London Scottish v Ealing Trailfinders, KO 12:30
Bristol Rugby v Cornish Pirates, KO 13:00
Nottingham Rugby v Rotherham Titans, KO 13:00

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