GKIPA Championship preview - Round 1328/01/2015
'Home advantage' would appear to be an out-dated concept if the
first 12 rounds of GKIPA Championship action are taken in
isolation. Of the 72 matches played so far, exactly half have been
won by the visiting team (and there have been two draws).
Looking at the round 13 fixture list there appears every chance that this 50:50 split will continue with three of the top four sides on the road. That said, league leaders Bristol will not be taking anything for granted when they face Cornish Pirates at the Mennaye Field on Sunday. Bristol haven't won in the Duchy for nearly five years.
Third-placed London Scottish travel to Bedford in a match that could easily go either way, and the same applies to Jersey's home tussle with Nottingham, who sit in the fourth and final play-off spot.
Yorkshire Carnegie's poor record at Headingley has contributed to the surprising home/away statistic. Carnegie have yet to win at home in five attempts - a record they will be looking to put right when they entertain Moseley on Sunday.
Plymouth's recent mini revival could make for a tough afternoon for Rotherham, as the Titans head south looking to put the disappointment of their British & Irish Cup quarter-final exit behind them, while Doncaster arguably have the toughest task of the lot - a trip to Sixways to face Worcester, who have yet to taste defeat at Sixways.
Bedford Blues (6th) v London Scottish (3rd), Saturday January 31, kick-off 3pm
Following defeat away to Rotherham Titans in the last round of the GKIPA Championship, Bedford Blues will be looking to bounce straight back against third placed London Scottish when they come to Goldington Road on Saturday. Blues produced a strong second-half performance to take two bonus points from the first meeting at The Athletic Ground: a 36-30 win for Scottish. Last season's corresponding fixture ended in a 21-13 win for the Blues.
Referee: Ian Tempest
Jersey (8th) v Nottingham (4th), Saturday January 31, kick-off 3pm
Jersey produced one of their best performances since winning promotion to the Championship when they won 39-12 at Meadow Lane in Round 3. Since then though they have only claimed two more victories, the most recent coming away at Doncaster. Nottingham go into the match occupying the fourth and final play-off spot but without leading points-scorer Dan Mugford, who suffered a broken leg against Plymouth last time out. Jersey did the double over Nottingham in the 2013/14 season after two narrow victories.
Referee: Andrew Small
Plymouth Albion (12th) v Rotherham Titans (5th), Saturday January 31, kick-off 3pm
Having picked up four points from their opening 10 league matches Albion have now garnered five in the last two games, beating Moseley 19-18 and picking up a bonus point from a narrow 22-19 defeat at high-flying Nottingham. Rotherham head south on the back of a six-game winning run against Albion, their last defeat coming on 28 September 2012. Two second-half yellow cards in quick succession killed off any hopes Albion had of ending that sequence of results when the sides met at Clifton Lane earlier this season. Albion were leading by eight points when Ted Stagg and Tom Fidler were despatched to the sin-bin five minutes apart. Saturday's game falls into the 'must-win' category for Albion as they are still eight points adrift at the foot of the table despite their mini revival.
Referee: Steve Lee
Worcester (2nd) v Doncaster (11th), Saturday January 31, kick-off 3pm
Doncaster Director of Rugby Clive Griffiths returns to Sixways for the first time since he left his position as head coach of the Warriors in January 2009 hoping that his side can pull off what would be one of the biggest shocks in Championship history. Whereas second from top Worcester have won every game since losing narrowly to Bristol on the opening day of the season, second from bottom Doncaster have slumped to eight straight defeats in the league. Doncaster were cruelly denied a famous win on their last visit to Sixways in September 2010, going down 30-28 after Andy Goode kicked a controversial penalty in the eighth minute of stoppage time. The first fixture between the sides this season ended in a 32-16 win for the Warriors.
Referee: JP Doyle
Cornish Pirates (7th) v Bristol (1st), Sunday February 1, kick-off 3pm
Cornish Pirates will pay tribute to long-time benefactor and former owner Dicky Evans at Sunday's game against league leaders Bristol, and the Kenya-based businessman will be hoping that history repeats itself when he attends his first match at the Mennaye Field this season. The home side has come out on top in each of the last 10 meetings between these sides, with the Pirates prevailing 21-15 in last season's fixture. Bristol have not left the Ducky victorious since 1 May, 2010, when they ran out 60-15 winners in the promotion play-offs.
Referee: Greg Garner
Yorkshire Carnegie (9th) v Moseley (10th), Sunday February 1, kick-off 3pm
Carnegie stretched their winning run in the league against Moseley to 14 matches when they won 32-28 at Billesley Common in Round 3. They haven't lost to the Birmingham-based outfit in league rugby since they were beaten 27-22 at The Reddings on 12 September, 1998. Carnegie's backs ran rampant in last season's corresponding fixture, scoring all bar one of their side's 10 tries in a thumping 62-5 win. Their home form this season has been disappointing by comparison though, with no wins from five outings in front of the Headingley faithful.
Referee: Dean Richards