B&I Cup Preview01/04/2015
A new name will be engraved on the British & Irish Cup this year with GKIPA Championship outfits Doncaster Knights and Worcester Warriors through to their first-ever final, kick-off which kicks off at 5.10pm this Friday, April 3rd (Good Friday) at Castle Park (live on Sky Sports HD).
Both sides completed the pool stages of this season's
competition with unblemished records after winning all six of their
matches, the Knights qualifying as top seeds after picking up five
try-scoring bonus points from home and away victories against
Cornish Pirates, Bedford Blues and Cross Keys. Worcester did the
double over Nottingham, Munster A and Moseley and finished the pool
stages with 27 points compared to Doncaster's 29. This was part of
a 24-game unbeaten run for the Warriors in both the B&I and the
Greene King IPA Championship, a stretch finally ended last month
when Jersey downed Worcester 23-21 at St Peter.
In the quarter-finals, Doncaster faced 2012 winners Munster A at Castle Park while Worcester were drawn at home to Wales's sole representatives in the last eight, Pontypridd.
Knights made a mockery of their poor form in the league to beat the Irish province 38-17, skipper Michael Hills grabbing a first-half brace with Bruno Bravo, ex-Jersey flanker Latu Makaafi and Dougie Flockhart adding further scores against the visitors, who had Lions forward Donncha O'Callaghan in their ranks.
Meanwhile, Worcester had their place in the semi-finals booked by half-time after early tries from Dean Hammond, Ben Howard and Ignacio Mieres, who converted all three and kicked a penalty, saw them race into a 24-3 interval lead. Pontypridd hit back with a late converted try but it was too little too late to stop the Warriors progressing to the last four.
It took a heroic defensive effort from Doncaster to upset the odds and knock Bristol out, 25-23, in the semi-finals, while Worcester became the first English team in 11 attempts to down two-time winners and defending champions Leinster A, 15-13, in an equally tense match at Sixways.
Warriors' flanker Sam Betty, who recently signed a new contract with the promotion-chasing club, has scored three tries in the two league meetings between the clubs this season. Both ended in wins for the Warriors: 32-16 at Castle Park and 25-5 in the return match at Sixways, on 31 January, 2015.
Worcester's only previous experience of Castle Park before this season came in the 2010/11 Championship campaign when they prevailed by 37-16.
In winger Dougie Flockhart, Doncaster boast the GKIPA Championship's top points scorer. The Championship Player of the Month for February has 208 points for the season.
Route to the Final:
Cross Keys away 37-32
Cornish Pirates home 29-25
Bedford home 36-20
Bedford away 17-15
Cornish Pirates away 31-30
Cross Keys home 54-0
Munster A home 38-17 (Q-F)
Bristol home 25-23 (S-F)
Nottingham away 26-19
Munster A home 27-23
Moseley away 39-0
Moseley home 31-12
Munster A away 23-18
Nottingham home 43-22
Pontypridd home 24-10 (Q-F)
Leinster A home 13-11 (S-F)
Should the final be drawn at the end of extra time, 20 minutes of additional time will be played followed, if necessary, by a goal-kicking competition.