Preview to first Championship games of 201630/12/2015
Ealing Trailfinders returned to winning ways last week and if they are to back that up with another victory on Saturday, they will probably have to keep Josh Bainbridge quiet. Yorkshire Carnegie's young flanker is beginning to make a name for himself as a prolific try scorer.
After crossing over five times in defeat to Bristol earlier in the season, the No.7 grabbed four tries last week, as Carnegie recorded a crushing 43-9 victory over Yorkshire rivals Rotherham Titans – ending a run of three straight Greene King IPA Championship defeats.
Next up Bainbridge and co will visit Vallis Way, taking on a home side who recorded a vital victory of their own in a London derby last weekend. A run of seven consecutive losses in all competitions came to an end as they beat London Scottish 28-22 away from home, moving off the bottom of the table in the process.
Replacing Ealing at the foot of the table are Moseley, who will take on London Welsh at Old Deer Park on Saturday.
The Exiles, who beat Moseley away from home 17-6 back in September, were on the receiving end of a 35-0 defeat against table-topping Bristol last time out.
Welsh now sit down in tenth – just four points off the bottom in their first season back in the second tier.
Bristol, meanwhile, boast a five-point lead at the top after their comprehensive victory and will seek to maintain or extend that when they visit Nottingham.
Last season's play-off finalists have not only won their last three, but also beat Nottingham 46-31 in an entertaining contest back in September, Olly Robinson dotting down twice and Gavin Henson adding 16 points from the tee.
But the hosts have play-off aspirations of their own and currently lie just five points adrift of the Greene King IPA Championship top four.
It is Bedford Blues who currently occupy fourth spot, after they came from behind to beat Moseley last week and avoid a third straight league defeat.
On Friday they face London Scottish live on Sky Sports, who won the reverse fixture 24-12 back in September but also travel to Goldington Road in the wake of a three-match losing run in all competitions.
It has been even longer since Rotherham Titans tasted victory, with last weekend's derby defeat their fifth consecutive reversal. They did beat Saturday's opponents – Cornish Pirates – when they met earlier in the season, despite scoring two tries to the Pirates' three. However, they face a team in form, the Cornish club having suffered defeat just once in their last seven games in all competitions.
Finally, Doncaster Knights travel to Jersey off the back of a 26-12 victory over fellow promotion hopefuls Nottingham.
When these two sides met earlier in the season, Doncaster claimed a 31-27 victory – Latu Makaafi crossing over twice – so Jersey have that and a 16-10 loss at Cornish Pirates on Sunday from which to bounce back.
Round 13 fixtures
Friday January 1
Bedford Blues v London Scottish, 3.05pm. Live on Sky Sports HD
Saturday January 2
London Welsh v Moseley, 1.30pm
Rotherham Titans v Cornish Pirates, 2pm
Jersey v Doncaster Knights, 2.30pm (see full preview HERE)
Nottingham v Bristol, 2.30pm
Ealing Trailfinders v Yorkshire Carnegie, 3pm