GKIPA Championship preview - Round 1428/01/2016
AFTER nearly a month of waiting the Greene King IPA Championship is back – and leaders Bristol's clash with Jersey is just one of an intriguing set of fixtures.
An incredible seven Championship clubs out of a possible eight qualified for the British & Irish Cup quarter-finals last week, of which Jersey were one.
And the Channel Islanders will have every reason to believe they can put up a fight at Ashton Gate after a superb run of form.
They have lost just once in the league since October 23, and only a last-ditch penalty try denied them victory over second-placed Doncaster Knights last time out.
But this match could be a battle of attack against defence – Jersey have conceded a league-low of 248 points, while Bristol have managed to rack up 424 points through 13 rounds so far.
Meanwhile, the Knights entertain Rotherham Titans at Castle Park live on Sky Sports this weekend and will be looking to exact revenge on their Yorkshire rivals for their defeat away from home in Round 4.
Curtis Wilson's late try decided the game that day, and Doncaster will be eager to put paid to a streak that has seen them lose their last seven league games against Rotherham.
But with the Championship's top scorer in Dougie Flockhart (156 points) and joint top try-scorer, Latu Makaafi (13 tries) on board, Doncaster will back themselves to end that run at home.
Yorkshire Carnegie are just a point behind Doncaster in third, and travel to Richmond to take on London Scottish on Saturday.
Scottish have so far been unable to replicate the form that saw them reach the play-offs last year, with just five wins from 13 games played.
But one of those wins came against Carnegie on the road, when Peter Lydon ended the Yorkshiremen's unbeaten start to the season with a last-gasp penalty back in September.
In fourth are Bedford Blues, who have a nine-point cushion over Jersey, and they will restart their Championship campaign against London Welsh at Goldington Road.
London Welsh are down in eighth but when they get it right have troubled some of the best this season, having beaten Carnegie, Doncaster and the Blues already during this campaign.
In the previous round they comfortably beat Moseley, who welcome Nottingham to Billesley Common on Saturday.
A run of four defeats has seen Moseley slip to the bottom of the table – though they have found some form in the British & Irish Cup after reaching the knockout stages.
Nottingham battled to a losing bonus point in defeat to Bristol in their last appearance in the Championship and are now level with fifth-place Jersey on 33 points.
Elsewhere, Ealing Trailfinders will be aiming to open up some breathing space on Moseley when they travel to Cornish Pirates.
Ealing are 11th only on points difference but have fared well on the road recently, winning two of their last three away games.
However, Cornish Pirates have piled on the points – in their last four league outings they have scored a combined 124.
Round 14 fixtures
Saturday January 30
Bedford Blues v London Welsh, kick-off 3pm
London Scottish v Yorkshire Carnegie, kick-off 3pm
Moseley v Nottingham Rugby, kick-off 3pm
Sunday January 31
Bristol Rugby v Jersey, kick-off 3pm
Cornish Pirates v Ealing Trailfinders, kick-off 3pm
Doncaster Knights v Rotherham Titans, kick-off 3.15pm
To download statistics from round 13, click here.