GK IPA Championship preview - Round 9


The GKIPA Championship resumes after a three-week break for the British & Irish Cup with leaders Bristol Rugby looking to extend their club record winning run to 15 matches with victory at Bedford. Worcester could replace the Ashton Gate outfit at the top of the table for the first time this season if they win at third-placed London Scottish and Bristol lose to the Blues for the first time in three years.

Depending on results, Rotherham and Nottingham could swap places in 4th and 5th, while Yorkshire Carnegie could climb back into the top half of the table and replace Jersey in 6th if they beat the Channel Islanders in St Peter on Saturday and Bedford, Cornish Pirates and Doncaster Knights come unstuck.

Jersey (6th) v Yorkshire Carnegie (10th), Saturday December 20, KO 14:30
Yorkshire Carnegie are on a three-game winning run since Scotsman Tommy McGee took on the head coach duties at Headingley, whereas Jersey have lost their last five in all competitions. Carnegie achieved the double over the Channel Islanders in the 2013/14 season but Jersey did win on home soil, 20-17, in their inaugural Championship campaign. Former Jersey players Nathan Hannay and David Doherty are set to make a return to St Peter, while the home side's coaching team contains highly regarded former Leeds U19 skipper Steve Boden.

London Scottish (3rd) v Worcester Warriors (2nd), Saturday December 20, KO 15:00
Third plays second as London Scottish and Worcester come together for the first time in a league fixture. Scottish have failed to score more than two tries in each of their last four games, although the return of No.8 Mark Bright from England Sevens duty is set to give them a much-needed boost against what is the meanest defence in the league (120 points conceded in eight games). Bright goes into the game as the Championship's top try scorer with 10. Worcester are five points above Saturday's hosts and will extend their winning streak to 14 matches with victory at The Athletic Ground.

Nottingham Rugby (5th) v Doncaster Knights (9th), Sunday December 21, KO 15:00
Nottingham have won seven out of the last nine in all competitions - including a 52-7 thrashing when the sides last met in a league fixture at Meadow Lane. Doncaster's last league win over Nottingham was a 46-42 victory on 2 October, 2010. Tries could be at a premium on Sunday though, as Nottingham have only scored four at home in the league all season and Doncaster have managed just five on their travels. Knights have shown excellent form in the B&I Cup to qualify for the quarter-finals as top seeds and need to translate that form into the league after four straight losses. 

Rotherham Titans (4th) v Moseley (11th), Friday December 26, KO 14:00
Play-off hopefuls Rotherham are on a seven-game winning run against Moseley, who are eight points off the foot of the table. The last four games between the sides at Clifton Lane have been fairly tight affairs, with the Titans winning by a margin of 11 points or less. Moseley's last win in the fixture was on 11 February 2011, when three Ollie Thomas penalties handed them a 9-5 win at Billesley Common. Overall, Rotherham have won 23 out of the 31 league meetings since the first game between the two sides in 1996. Moseley head coach Kevin Maggs played 22 games for the Titans between 2008 and 2010.

Bedford Blues (7th) v Bristol Rugby (1st), Friday December 26, KO 15:00
GKIPA leaders and B&I Cup quarter-finalists Bristol go into this game on the back of 14 straight victories - a new club record in competitive fixtures. Andy Robinson's men did the double over the Blues in 2013/14, winning 45-27 in the club's 125th anniversary match before prevailing 32-19 at Goldington Road in the return fixture. Blues have not beaten Bristol since a 39-22 victory at Goldington Road on Boxing Day in 2011. Bristol are the top try scorers (38) in the Championship this season. Eighty percent of Bedford's tries (16 out of 20) have been scored by their backs.

Plymouth Albion (12th) v Cornish Pirates (8th), Saturday December 27, KO: 15:00
Cornish Pirates are unbeaten in their last 11 matches against cross-Tamar rivals Plymouth. Plymouth's last win of any description was a 16-8 victory at Brickfields on 3 October, 2009. There has been a history of close matches in recent times, with Plymouth claiming a losing bonus point in each of the last five fixtures. Pirates won 26-20 on their last visit to Brickfields.

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