GKIPA Championship preview Nov 7-905/11/2014
The Greene King IPA Championship resumes this weekend after a
month-long break for the first phase of the British & Irish Cup
and last Sunday's thrilling Championship XV game against Canada at
Sixways, where the cream of the league came up trumps to win
Heading into round 6, Bristol top the Championship table by three points from Worcester and London Scottish, who both have 20 points, while last season's National One champions Doncaster currently occupy the fourth play-off spot on 14 points, by virtue of having a better points difference than south Yorkshire rivals Rotherham.
Bristol welcome Doncaster to Ashton Gate and Worcester re-enact their 2011 Championship semi-final clash with a home game against Bedford. Yorkshire Carnegie take on Rotherham at Headingley in the third Friday evening fixture.
At the foot of the table, Plymouth Albion and Moseley will be looking to put the record straight after failing to win any of their first five league fixtures. Albion travel to Jersey while Moseley are at home to London Scottish. Both matches take place on Saturday.
Sunday's solitary fixture sees Cornish Pirates up against Nottingham at the Mennaye Field.
With both Bristol and Worcester and the well-supported Cornish Pirates and Jersey all at home in round 6 and a mouth-watering derby in prospect at Headingley, an aggregate attendance of over 20,000 should be on the cards this weekend.
This was last achieved in the regular season when a combined total of 22,085 spectators turned up to watch six matches over the 2012 festive period.
Bristol v Doncaster, Friday November 7, KO
Championship leaders Bristol are on a six-game winning run against the in-form Knights, who have only lost twice in eight games in league and cup since their return to this level. Both sides produced a clean sweep of wins in the first three rounds of the British & Irish Cup. Doncaster's last win in Bristol was a 26-12 victory at the Memorial Stadium, on 12 September 2010.
Worcester v Bedford, Friday November 7, KO 19:45
Bedford return to Sixways for the first time since they came within a whisker of killing off Worcester's promotion hopes in April 2011. The Blues pushed the Warriors all the way that day and could have been celebrating a famous victory had Myles Dorrian's last-gasp drop goal attempt not gone wide. Instead Worcester escaped with a nail-biting 23-22 victory to keep their Premiership dream alive.
Yorkshire Carnegie v Rotherham, Friday November 7, KO 20:00
Rotherham haven't beaten Carnegie in a regular season fixture at Headingley since they spoiled Premiership-bound Leeds' promotion party with a 32-29 win over their county rivals in April 2007. The Titans did win a promotion play-off game there, 20-3 in March 2013, and have already beaten Carnegie 'on the road' this season with a 20-3 win in the British & Irish Cup in a tie played at the home of Scarborough RUFC. Carnegie have the better overall record in all competitions in recent years with seven wins to Rotherham's three.
Moseley v London Scottish, Saturday November 8, KO 12:00
London Scottish go into Saturday's game as joint top try scorers in the Championship with 27, while all 11 of Moseley's league tries this season - at home and away - have come in the second half of matches. Scottish have won on each of their three previous trips to Billesley Common, last season's fixture ending in a 23-20 victory for the Exiles.
Jersey v Plymouth Albion, Saturday November 8, KO
With 114 points conceded Jersey have the fourth meanest defence in the Championship, Plymouth, meanwhile, are the league's lowest points scorers with 86 including just five tries. Sixty-six of those points have come from the Championship's leading kicker, Lawrence Rayner. Jersey came out on top 22-16 when the sides met at Brickfields in the 3rd round of this season's British & Irish Cup. The corresponding league fixture in October 2013 ended in a 23-18 win for Albion.
Cornish Pirates v Nottingham, Sunday November 9, KO 15:00
Nottingham have only won one of the last 12 meetings with the Pirates, going down to a 17-11 defeat on their last visit to the Duchy on 23 March, 2014. The Green & Whites have still to pass the century mark for points scored this season, crossing the opposition line just eight times. Pirates have scored 14 tries this season - 11 of them by their backs.