GKIPA Championship preview - Round 1618/02/2015
Worcester Warriors and Bristol Rugby confirmed their place in
the Greene King IPA Championship play-offs with seven rounds of the
regular season to go following victories over Rotherham Titans and
Moseley in round 15.
The top two are now 21 points clear of third-placed London Scottish - and on the verge of securing a home semi-final - after the Exiles were held to a 12-12 draw away to bottom club Plymouth Albion. Even so, Scottish look certain of a place in the play-offs.
The race for the fourth and final spot is less clear cut, with Nottingham and Rotherham's recent disappointing run of form giving hope to the teams below them that all is not yet lost. Cornish Pirates, Jersey, Bedford Blues and last year's beaten semi-finalists Yorkshire Carnegie still have an outside chance of keeping their season's alive beyond the end of April.
Doncaster meanwhile, gave their survival hopes a massive shot in the arm with Sunday's tremendous 30-13 win at Cornish Pirates seeing them leapfrog Moseley into 10th place. The Knights are now 10 points clear of danger with seven games to go. Moseley and Plymouth, who meet at Billesley Common on April 18, are separated by seven points.
Nottingham Rugby v Cornish Pirates, Friday 20 February, kick-off 8pm
Nottingham's 28-12 victory at the Mennaye Field back in November was only their second win in 13 encounters against the Pirates. Two first-half tries from Dan Mugford, followed by a second-half brace from skipper and leading try scorer Brent Wilson earned them their first win in the county since 2008.
Bedford Blues v Worcester Warriors, Saturday 21 February, kick-off 3pm
Worcester head to Goldington Road on the back of a club record 21-match winning sequence. The GKIPA Championship leaders reached the new landmark after beating Rotherham 49-10 in Saturday's televised encounter at Sixways. It took a late interception try from Marcel Garvey for the Warriors to seal victory on their last visit to the Blues' ground, on 16 October 2010. This season's Sixways clash ended in a 42-12 win for the relegated Premiership side.
Doncaster Knights v Bristol Rugby, Saturday 21 February, kick-off 2.30pm
Doncaster are bidding to win three Championship matches in a row for the first time since September/October 2011, having beaten Yorkshire Carnegie and Cornish Pirates in their last two fixtures. Bristol were made to work hard for their seventh straight win against Doncaster when the sides met in round 6. The Knights led by two points with 20 minutes to go before late tries from Dwayne Peel and Olly Robinson saw Bristol prevail 24-12.
London Scottish v Moseley, Saturday 21 February, kick-off 3pm
Drew Cheshire's early second-half try proved the difference when these sides met at Billesley Common back in November. Dual registered Northampton fly-half Sam Olver kicked the remaining 11 points in a 16-9 win for the Red & Blacks. Last season's corresponding league game finished in a 38-17 win for the Exiles, Miles Mantella scoring a hat-trick for the hosts.
Plymouth Albion v Jersey, Saturday 21 February, kick-off 3pm
Brickfields is a happy hunting ground for Jersey who have notched three wins from three there. Their most recent success came at the end of October when a Tobias Hoskins try and 17 points from the boot of Aaron Penberthy helped them to a 22-16 victory in the B&I Cup.
Rotherham Titans v Yorkshire Carnegie, Saturday 21 February, kick-off 2pm
Rotherham have lost their last four home games in all competitions to county rivals Carnegie - a run that stretches back to 11 September, 2011. If Rotherham were to prevail on Saturday each side would have 11 wins apiece in the league head-to-head.