GKIPA Championship preview - Round 1029/12/2014
Bristol will be determined to make sure Worcester's stay at the
top of the GKIPA Championship table is short-lived with victory
against bottom-of-the-table Plymouth at Ashton Gate on Thursday.
Worcester moved thee points clear of their title rivals having
taken maximum points from last Saturday's trip to Yorkshire
Carnegie - the only Round 10 fixture to be played before the New
Year. The game at Headingley was in the balance until winger Sam
Smith touched down four times in the second half to help his side
to a 36-19 victory - their 15th win on the bounce.
Bristol Rugby v Plymouth Albion, Thursday January 1, KO 15:00
Bristol Rugby's 14-match winning run against Plymouth Albion stretches back nearly 10 years to 5 March, 2005, when they lost 15-9 at the semi-final stage of the now defunct Powergen Shield competition. Bristol have not been beaten in the league by Plymouth since the Devonians won 12-7 at the Memorial Stadium on 26 September 2004. While Bristol will go top with a win, survival is the only thing on Plymouth's agenda. Last Saturday's cross-Tamar defeat to Cornish Pirates maintained their winless streak and leaves them 10 points adrift at the bottom of the GKIPA table. Last season's corresponding game between the sides finished 43-12 to Bristol, with Andy Short, Marco Mama and George Watkins each scoring twice and Jack Wallace grabbing his first try for the club.
Cornish Pirates v Jersey, Saturday January 3, KO 15:00
Saturday's 27-19 derby win at Brickfields put Pirates in the top half of the table for the first time this season. Despite winning only twice at home in the league, Ian Davies' men are now sixth - two places higher than Jersey, who suffered a sixth straight defeat in Round 9 when they were beaten 17-13 by Yorkshire Carnegie at St Peter. Jersey have now picked up eight bonus points; only Worcester have more. Both previous Championship clashes at the Mennaye Field ended in four-point wins for the hosts: 19-15 and 28-24.
Moseley v Bedford Blues, Saturday January 3, KO 15:00
An evenly-contested match looks in prospect at Billesley Common with very little to choose between these sides. They go into the game with an equal amount of points (17) and wins (3) and Moseley's record of just one home win in the league in five outings is mirrored by Bedford's return on the road from an equal number of games. Although beaten 28-24 by Bristol, Bedford will take great encouragement from pushing the title challengers so close in Round 9, while Moseley will be keen to back up their impressive Boxing Day win away to Rotherham Titans. Prior to last season's 24-13 defeat Bedford had won on each of their six previous visits to Billesley Common.
Doncaster Knights v Rotherham Titans, Sunday January 4, KO: 12:45. (Live on Sky Sports HD).
Rotherham Titans make the short trip to Castle Park in search of a fifth straight win over south Yorkshire rivals Doncaster. Titans won 25-19 when they last visited the ground in March 2013. In the overall head-to-head record, though, it is Doncaster who hold local bragging rights with 13 wins to Titans' 7 since the first competitive fixture was held back in 2005. Doncaster need to rediscover their try-scoring form if they are to stop a run of six straight league defeats and pull away from table-propping Plymouth. Almost four hours of league rugby has passed since Bruno Bravo last scored against Moseley back in mid-November.
Nottingham Rugby v London Scottish, Sunday January 4, KO 3pm
Fourth plays third as Nottingham prepare to say farewell to Meadow Lane, their home since 2006. Sunday's game against London Scottish will be the Green & Whites' last at the venue before they relocate to their training base at Lady Bay. Scottish have failed to win in three attempts at Meadow Lane since their promotion to the Championship in 2011. Only a quarter of London Scottish's tries this season (37) have come away from The Athletic Ground, although, with 9, they have still scored more on their travels than Nottingham (8) have managed at home.