GK IPA Championship preview - Round 21


The race for the final play-off spot comes to a head at Lady Bay on Friday night when fifth-placed Nottingham Rugby take on Rotherham Titans, who currently occupy the coveted fourth spot in the league table. The Titans' 26-25 win over South Yorkshire rivals Doncaster in round 20 has elevated them above the Green & Whites who fell to a 34-29 defeat at London Scottish. Scottish confirmed their place in the play-offs - alongside Bristol Rugby and Worcester Warriors - with the win. Rotherham could book their place in the play-offs for the second consecutive season on Friday night if they claim all five points and prevent Nottingham taking anything from the contest.

The battle to avoid relegation is a straight shootout between bottom club Plymouth Albion and Moseley. Neither side picked up any points last weekend, meaning Albion still have a seven-point deficit to make up on their rivals. Realistically, Albion need to take four more competition points from Saturday's match than their opponents to give themselves any chance of survival going into the final weekend when they host Doncaster and Moseley travel to Jersey.

Bristol Rugby v Jersey RFC, Friday April 17, kick-off 7.45pm
Jersey have managed just three away wins in all competitions this season, and were beaten 54-14 when they last travelled to Bristol in February 2014. Jersey's home form has been much more impressive though, with the Islanders only losing once in five matches since Bristol left St Peter back in January with all five points from a 27-17 win. Leading 17-15 with seven minutes to go, Jersey looked on course to take the scalp of the league leaders, but Marco Mama's second try and a last-gasp score from Nicky Robinson helped the West Country side to victory.

Nottingham Rugby v Rotherham Titans, Friday April 17, kick-off 8pm
Rotherham haven't lost on Nottingham soil in the league since 25 January, 2011, when the Green & Whites prevailed by 37-8. The Titans scored four tries in each half on their last visit, winger Curtis Wilson grabbing a hat-trick in a 51-7 rout. Brent Wilson celebrated his 50th league game as captain by scoring one of Nottingham's three tries when they won 28-19 at Clifton Lane earlier this year. The Titans have won four out of their last five games, scoring 18 tries along the way, while the return to fitness of influential fly-half Dan Mugford from a broken leg comes as a timely boost to Nottingham's play-off push.

Doncaster Knights v Bedford Blues, Saturday April 18, kick-off 2.30pm
Doncaster prevailed by 36-20 when the sides met at Castle Park in the pool stages of this season's British & Irish Cup. However the first league encounter went the way of the Blues, 35-29, after the Knights threw away a 23-9 half-time lead. A win for Doncaster would see the Knights leapfrog the Blues into 9th place.

Moseley v Plymouth Albion, Saturday April 18, kick-off 3pm
Plymouth's 19-18 victory over Moseley back in January was their first win of any description in the league for 10 months. Even then fly-half Sam Olver had the chance to win the match for the Red & Blacks in stoppage time but his long-range penalty attempt fell short. Matches between Moseley and Plymouth Albion are typically tight affairs. Only once in the last 10 meetings has the winning margin been more than eight points. Albion lost 16-11 at Billesley Common on the final day of the 2013/14 campaign.

Cornish Pirates v Worcester Warriors, Saturday April 18, kick-off 3pm
Worcester return to the Mennaye Field for the first time since they won 21-12 in the first leg of the 2010/11 Championship play-off final. The Warriors went on to clinch promotion that year with victory in the return leg and have not been back to the Duchy since. Tom Biggs scored a hat-trick to help Worcester overpower the Pirates 62-26 at Sixways.

Yorkshire Carnegie v London Scottish, Sunday April 19, kick-off 3pm
Scottish have lost on all three previous trips north to Headingley where Carnegie are proving a lot harder to beat than in the first half of the season. Having waited five months to secure their first home win, Carnegie are now on a four-game winning streak at their HQ with Moseley, Nottingham, Bedford and Jersey all beaten. Scottish scored all of their points in the second half when they defeated Carnegie 26-22 at The Athletic Ground.

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