GK IPA Championship preview - Round 1214/01/2015
The second half of the regular GKIPA Championship season gets
underway this weekend with a number of important fixtures up and
down the country.
Leaders Bristol Rugby are at home to Yorkshire Carnegie, while nearest rivals Worcester make the short journey to Billesley Common to take on Moseley for the fourth time this season.
Bristol are already 14 points better off than they were at the same stage of last season, when they went on to finish top for the third time in five years.
London Scottish and Nottingham Rugby would cement their position in third and fourth place respectively with home wins against Cornish Pirates and Plymouth Albion.
Rotherham Titans and Bedford Blues know victory at Clifton Lane this Saturday is vital if either are to retain hopes of a top four spot, while, at Castle Park, the focus is on the other end of the table as Doncaster and Jersey seek a much-needed win.
London Scottish (3rd) v Cornish Pirates
(7th), Friday January 16, KO 19:45
Mark Bright claimed his second hat-trick in as many games in a 30-19 win for the Exiles when the sides met at the Mennaye Field back in September. Bright remains the league's top try scorer with 13, four more than his nearest rival. Scottish got back to winning ways after four defeats on the bounce with a 26-22 win over Yorkshire Carnegie in Round 11. Pirates conceded 25 points in a losing cause on their last two visits to the Athletic Ground.
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Doncaster Knights (11th) v Jersey (9th), Saturday January 17, KO 14:30
Knights have lost seven league games on the bounce to drop to 11th, eight points ahead of bottom placed Plymouth, while Jersey are on an eight-game losing run in all competitions and are just two points better off in ninth. Tries from Tyson Lewis, Rhys Buckley and Dante Mama helped Knights secure a 22-17 win over Jersey the last time the Islanders visited Castle Park in the 2012/13 season.
Referee: Simon Harding
Rotherham Titans (5th) v Bedford Blues (6th), Saturday January 17, KO 14:00
Rotherham and Bedford have played each other 37 times, the Blues winning 20 games to 16 for the Titans with one draw. The Titans are on a five-game winning streak in all competitions against Saturday's opponents stretching back to Boxing Day 2012. Recent fixtures have been high-scoring affairs with an aggregate of over 40 points scored in the last four meetings, and the Blues arrive in south Yorkshire in good try-scoring form with 21 in their last five outings. Curtis Wilson raced in for a superb hat-trick as Titans won 42-15 at Goldington Road in Round 2. Four second-half tries saw Titans take last season's corresponding game, 35-6. Bedford would move above Rotherham and into fifth if successful at Clifton Lane.
Referee: Greg MacDonald
Moseley (9th) v Worcester Warriors (2nd), Saturday January 17, KO 15:00
Moseley's last win of any description against the Warriors was a 22-15 victory on December 9, 2000. The Birmingham-based side put up a good showing in this season's first meeting: a 23-7 defeat that saw them restrict the Warriors to three tries. Worcester won 39-0 at Billesley Common in the British & Irish Cup back in October. Dean Ryan's men have overtaken Bristol as the Championship's top try-scorers, after Saturday's 10-try return in the 62-26 win against Cornish Pirates took their overall tally to 58 - three more than their rivals.
Referee: Andrew Jackson
Bristol Rugby (1st) v Yorkshire Carnegie (8th), Sunday January 18, KO 15:00
Seven places and 33 points separate leaders Bristol from Yorkshire Carnegie going into Sunday's match at Ashton Gate. The West Country side came away from Headingley with a 26-13 victory when the sides met in Round 2. Carnegie won on their last visit to Bristol: 30-25 in the semi-final of the 2013/14 British & Irish Cup. They are the second lowest scorers in the Championship with just 202 points to their name.
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Nottingham Rugby (4th) v Plymouth Albion (12th), Sunday January 18, KO 15:00
Nottingham start a new chapter in their history at Lady Bay on Sunday after saying farewell to Meadow Lane, a venue that Sunday's opponents Plymouth will be glad to see the back of. Albion never won in nine attempts at the football ground. Indeed, their last win on Nottingham soil came at the Green & Whites' former home at Ireland Avenue on 15 January 2005. Nottingham have staged Championship rugby at Lady Bay once before, beating Leeds Carnegie 24-11 in a hastily rearranged midweek game in February 2012. Nottingham won 24-17 when the sides met at Brickfields in Round 2. In Round 11, Nottingham cemented their place in the top four with an impressive 28-19 victory against Rotherham, while struggling Plymouth breathed new life into their survival bid thanks to a 19-18 win at home to Moseley - their first 'W' in the league since March last year.
Referee: Matthew Grady