GKIPA Championship preview - Round 17


Nottingham skipper Brent Wilson had the honour of scoring the 500th try in the GKIPA Championship this season when he crossed the whitewash in the 70th minute of the Green & Whites' clash against Cornish Pirates at Lady Bay a week last Friday.

A total of 532 tries have now been scored after 16 rounds of action, at an average of 5.52 tries per game, which compares favourably with the Aviva Premiership's return of 444, at an average of just under five.

This weekend, the league's top try-scorers come up against the side with the lowest number of tries, when leaders Worcester (90 tries) entertain bottom club Plymouth (20) at Sixways.

Events at Billesley Common will be of particular interest to Albion fans, as the two sides immediately above them in the league table, Moseley and Doncaster, go head-to-head. The Red and Blacks go into the match in 11th place, two points behind the Knights and three in front of Albion.

Elsewhere, Rotherham could move back into the play-off zone after an eight-week absence if they continue their recent good record against Cornish Pirates at the Mennaye Field, and fourth-placed Nottingham lose at Bristol. Jersey and Yorkshire Carnegie need home wins against London Scottish and Bedford respectively to keep alive their slim hopes of making the play-offs.

Moseley v Doncaster Knights, Friday 6 March, kick-off 7.30pm

Moseley stage Friday night rugby for the second time this season as they welcome relegation rivals Doncaster to Billesley Common. The first floodlight game, against Yorkshire Carnegie in round three, ended in a 28-24 defeat. Sam Olver kicked seven penalties and converted Chris Brightwell's try in a 28-23 win for Moseley at Castle Park back in mid-November. Doncaster haven't won at Billesley Common since November 2008.

Referee: Tim Wigglesworth

Bristol v Nottingham, Friday 6 March, kick-off 7.45pm

Well over half of Nottingham's 34 tries this season have been scored by forwards, with the league's third highest try scorer, captain Brent Wilson, accounting for 11 of them. Wilson scored when Nottingham pulled off a shock 23-19 win at the Memorial Stadium en route to the 2012/13 play-offs. Bristol won last season's corresponding game 33-18, and are on a four-game winning streak against the Green & Whites. Nottingham head coach Martin Haag comes up against one of his former clubs for the second game running.

Referee: Thomas Foley

Jersey v London Scottish, Saturday 7 March , kick-off 3pm

London Scottish scored three tries in each half on their way to a 38-17 win in the first encounter of the season. In the overall head-to-head, Scottish have four Championship wins to Jersey's one, the Islanders' solitary success coming in the first meeting between these sides at this level: a 20-17 win on 27 October, 2012. Jersey, with 12, have conceded the fewest tries of any side at home in the league, while London Scottish have conceded the second fewest (14) away, suggesting a tight game could be in prospect.

Referee: Steve Lee

Worcester Warriors v Plymouth Albion, Saturday 7 March, kick-off 3pm

Top plays bottom as leaders Worcester entertain a Plymouth side 11 places and 55 points worse off than them in the GKIPA Championship table. Warriors have won all five previous meetings at this level, and anything other than a home win would be considered the shock of the season. GJ van Velze, with two, and Sam Betty and Tom Biggs scored the tries that earned Worcester a 22-10 win at Brickfields in round seven.

Referee: Ian Tempest

Yorkshire Carnegie v Bedford Blues, Sunday 8 March, kick-off 3pm

Yorkshire Carnegie have never lost to Bedford at Headingley. The Blues' best result at the ground was a 24-24 draw three seasons ago in the promotion play-offs. Their last visit, on 2 February, 2014, ended in a humbling 50-6 defeat. The sides go into the weekend tied on 31 points, in ninth and eighth respectively, knowing that one more win will all but guarantee them their place in the division next season.

Referee: David Procter

Cornish Pirates v Rotherham Titans, Sunday 8 March, kick-off 3.15pm (live on Sky TV)

Titans will look to extend their winning run against the Pirates to five matches as they chase down Nottingham for the fourth and final play-off spot. Tries from Sean Scanlon, Tom Cruse, Dan White, Jack Roberts and two from Michael Keating helped the Yorkshire side to a 40-20 win on their last visit to the Mennaye Field. Cruse and Keating were on the scoresheet again in this season's clash at Clifton Lane, which ended in a 21-13 win for Titans.

Referee: Greg Macdonald

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