GK IPA Championship preview - Round 1107/01/2015
Round 11 is one for the traditionalists with Saturday afternoon
kick-offs across the board, all with 3pm starts with the exception
of Rotherham Titans v Nottingham, which gets underway an hour
Bristol Rugby and Worcester Warriors look on course for a home semi-final in the play-offs with a 14-point gap between the top two and the rest as the halfway point of the regular season approaches. Nottingham and London Scottish occupy the other two play-off spots from Rotherham and in-form Cornish Pirates in fifth and sixth respectively.
Buoyed by a competition record crowd of 10,701 at Ashton Gate for Bristol v Plymouth on New Year's Day, Round 10 in the GKIPA Championship attracted an impressive total of 20,759 spectators at an average of 3,460 per game.
London Scottish (4th) v Yorkshire Carnegie (8th), Saturday January 10, KO 15:00
Carnegie's only defeat to London Scottish since the Exiles were promoted to the Championship came in last season's corresponding fixture, when tries from Mark Bright and Jim Thompson and 16 points from the boot of Dan Newton sealed a 26-15 victory for the home side. Carnegie have won their last three games on the road in all competitions and have scored 12 tries away from home compared to 8 at Headingley in the same number of games. Scottish have lost their last two at The Athletic Ground and are on a four-game losing run in all competitions.
Worcester Warriors (2nd) v Cornish Pirates (6th), Saturday January 10, KO 15:00
Worcester and Cornish Pirates come together for the first time since they met in the 2010/11 Championship final. Worcester won by an aggregate of 46 points to 32 over the course of the two legs to win promotion back to the Premiership at the first attempt. However, Pirates did have the honour of being the only side to beat Worcester in the regular season, a late Rob Cook penalty earning them a 23-21 victory at Sixways. Nine of the Pirates' 11 league tries this season have come away from home.
Jersey (9th) v Bristol Rugby (1st) , Saturday January 10, KO 15:00
Bristol blitzed their way into a 19-0 lead after just 16 minutes in last season's corresponding fixture before running out 26-17 winners. Bristol have won all four previous league encounters against Jersey. Last weekend's 30-12 loss at Cornish Pirates was Jersey's seventh defeat in a row, while Bristol rewarded a five-figure crowd with a routine 55-18 win against Plymouth on New Year's Day.
Plymouth Albion (12th) v Moseley (10th), Saturday January 10, KO 15:00
Plymouth need to break their duck for the season and beat Moseley or run the risk being cut further adrift at the bottom of the Championship table. Albion have yet to win in the league and find themselves 11 points in arrears of Doncaster. The only other side to go through a Championship season without a win to their name was Birmingham & Solihull in 2009/10. Saturday's game should be a close run thing if previous form is taken into account, as eight of the last nine meetings have been settled by a single figure winning margin. Last season's corresponding game ended in a thrilling 34-34 draw, while Moseley won 9-6 at Brickfields in the 2012/13 campaign.
Bedford Blues (7th) v Doncaster Knights (11th), Saturday January 10, KO 15:00
Bedford go into the match buoyed by a 23-15 win against Moseley at Billesley Common - their first success away from home in the league since late September. The three tries to one victory sees the Blues safely nestled in mid-table. Doncaster, though, continue to look over their shoulders after slipping to a sixth consecutive Championship defeat in Sunday's televised encounter against Rotherham. Knights did the double over the Blues in the pool stages of this season's British & Irish Cup, winning 17-15 when the sides met at Goldington Road on 28 November, 2014. Knights have a decent record at Bedford's home ground with just two defeats in their last six visits. Their last win in the league there was a 33-31 victory in the 2010/11 promotion play-offs.
Rotherham Titans (5th) v Nottingham Rugby (3rd), Saturday January 10, KO 14:00
Nottingham have only won twice at Clifton Lane, most recently on 5 January 2013 when they pulled off a remarkable comeback to win 32-12. Trailing 12-8 with seven minutes of normal time remaining, the Green & Whites took full advantage of Charlie Mulchrone's sin-binning to score 24 points without reply. Rotherham did the double over Nottingham last season on their way to making the play-offs. Nottingham leapfrogged London Scottish into third after their 22-21 win against the Exiles at Meadow Lane on Sunday, while Rotherham are four points off a top four spot after an equally tight win against south Yorkshire rivals Doncaster.