British & Irish Cup Round 426/11/2014
The British & Irish Cup resumes after a three-week break,
with four of the pools topped by Greene King IPA Championship sides
and a fifth headed by Ireland's flag-bearers Leinster 'A'. The
double B&I Cup champions are in a three-way battle with Jersey
and Saturday's opponents Carmarthen Quins for top spot in Pool
Elsewhere, the tie of the round appears to be at Ashton Gate, where the Pool 1 pacesetters, Bristol and Pontypridd, two sides with good B&I Cup pedigrees, go head-to-head in the latest installment of a rivalry that dates back 115 years. Bristol have won all of their 11 games this season while Pontypridd's only defeat was at the hands of Andy Robinson's men in Round 3. The Sardis Road fixture was watched by just under 6,000 fans and another bumper attendance is expected for Sunday's rematch.
London Scottish v Connacht Eagles, Saturday 29 November, KO 19:00
It has been a case of so near yet so far for London Scottish in the B&I Cup. The Exiles looked to be heading for their first win of the competition in Round 3, but two late Connacht tries meant they had to settle for the consolation of a third losing bonus point. The 30-27 defeat in Galway leaves Scottish bottom of the pool with Saturday's opponents two points above them in third.
Bristol Rugby v Pontypridd, Sunday 30 November, KO 15:00
The respective leaders of the Greene King IPA Championship and Welsh Premiership clash at Ashton Gate in a tie that could well decide who qualifies for the knockout stages as winners of Pool 1. Bristol go into Sunday's match sitting atop the table on 13 points with Pontypridd four points off the pace in second. A brace of tries from David Lemi and one from Luke Baldwin saw Bristol win 24-13 at Sardis Road. Since then, Bristol have stretched their winning start to the season to 11 matches while Pontypridd's league record remains unblemished.
Rotherham Titans v Ulster Ravens, Saturday 29 November, KO 14:00
Top plays bottom at Clifton Lane on Saturday as Pool 2 leaders Rotherham go in search of their fourth straight win against an Ulster side that has yet to taste victory. Titans top the table on 14 points while Ulster have 4. Perry Parker's last-gasp try and James McKinney's conversion saw Rotherham come from behind to win 31-29 when the sides met in Round 3. Ulster won 31-24 on their only other visit to Clifton Lane, in December 2011.
Aberavon v Yorkshire Carnegie, Friday 28 November, KO 19:15
Yorkshire Carnegie have encountered lean times since they thrashed Aberavon 85-0 in Round 3. The Leeds-based outfit have lost to Rotherham and Bedford and drawn with lowly Plymouth, scoring just three tries in the process. Aberavon, meanwhile, are rooted to the bottom of the Welsh Premiership with just one win to their name.
Munster A v Nottingham Rugby, Saturday 29 November, KO 15:00
A 23-12 reverse to Munster A in Round 3 at Meadow Lane made it three straights defeats for Nottingham in this year's competition. The Green & Whites prop up Pool 3 with one point to their name while former champions Munster are on nine points, four points behind leaders Worcester. Munster have won all five previous B&I Cup clashes between the sides.
Worcester Warriors v Moseley, Saturday 29 November, KO 15:00
Worcester secured their first try bonus point and their third win of the competition when they beat Moseley 39-0 at Billesley Common in Round 3. Moseley's last win of any description against the Warriors was a 22-15 victory on December 9, 2000. Worcester go into the match on 13 points while Moseley have five.
Bedford Blues v Doncaster Knights, Friday 28 November, KO 19:45
Pool 4 leaders Doncaster defend their 100% record in the B&I Cup against a Bedford side no doubt still smarting from Sunday's 65-14 league defeat to Cornish Pirates. The Knights' last success at Goldington Road was a 33-31 win in the Championship promotion play-offs, on 2 April, 2011. Doncaster will hope for a return to winning ways after losing all three leagues since they beat the Blues 36-20 at Castle Park in Round 3.
Cross Keys v Cornish Pirates, Saturday 29 November, KO 14:30
Cornish Pirates need to avenge their loss to Cross Keys at Pandy Park in the semi-final of the 2011/12 competition if they are to maintain the pressure on Doncaster at the top of Pool 4. Pirates are currently four points off the pace having won two of their first three games, including a 34-33 win over Cross Keys in Round 3, while the Welsh side are a further four points adrift on seven points. Pirates have been involved in three high-scoring matches with an average of 63 points scored per game. Of all the sides holding a top two position at the halfway point of the pool stages, they are the only one with a negative points difference (-2).
Jersey v Plymouth Albion, Friday 28 November, KO 19:30
Jersey go looking for a hat-trick of victories over Albion this season, after winning 19-0 in the league at St Peter and 22-16 at Brickfields in the 3rd Round of the B&I Cup. In what is proving to be the most competitive of all the pools, Jersey are joint top with Leinster on nine points with third-placed Carmarthen Quins one point in arrears. Winless Plymouth have three points from three games.
Leinster A v Carmarthen Quins, Saturday 29 November, KO 13:00
Carmarthen Quins stunned two-time winners Leinster in Round 3, after coming back from 21-3 down at half-time to win 26-24. A last-gasp try from replacement prop Ben Leung and Frazier Climo's brilliant touchline conversion clinched a terrific victory for the Welsh side, who are currently second in the Welsh Premiership table. Quins' five-game winning run in all competitions came to an end at the weekend though, when they were beaten 20-15 away to Cross Keys.