While all eyes will be on the much-fancied Worcester Warriors
and Bristol Rugby, particularly after they were paired together in
the first round of fixtures, the short history of the Greene King
IPA Championship, now about to embark on its sixth season, tells us
that the 'big two' will not have it all their own way over the next
nine months and 22 rounds of regular season action.
Nottingham Rugby v Bedford Blues, Friday September 5, KO
Both sides endured difficult campaigns in 2013/14, finishing
10th and 9th respectively. There was little
to separate the sides in the head-to-head stakes either, with a
narrow home win apiece. Matthew Jarvis' boot helped the Green &
Whites to a 26-24 win at Meadow Lane while the Blues took the
honours, 14-9, in the return fixture.
Doncaster Knights v Plymouth Albion, Saturday September 6,
Doncaster face Plymouth on their return to the Championship after
a one-season absence. The Knights have beaten Albion seven times
and lost only twice in league meetings at Castle Park, although the
Devon outfit enjoyed 27-22 victory on their last visit to the
ground in the 2012/13 season. In each of the last three seasons
Plymouth have kicked off on a winning note.
London Scottish v Rotherham Titans, Saturday September 6,
For the fourth time in five seasons London Scottish and Rotherham
meet on the opening weekend. This time last year two Tom Cruse
tries and the accurate boot of Juan Pablo Socino helped the Titans
leave the Athletic Ground with the narrowest of victories. That
24-23 win provided the perfect platform for the Titans to go on and
enjoy their best season for 10 years. Rotherham made the play-offs
at Scottish's expense and are currently on a three-game winning run
over the Exiles.
Moseley v Jersey, Saturday September 6,
Matt Williams lit up an otherwise forward-orientated, arm wrestle
the last time these sides met at Billesley Common, with a
long-range try fit to win any game. Williams, who has now sped off
to pastures new, struck just after the half-hour mark and Moseley
held on for a dogged 10-3 win. Moseley have won all four previous
Bristol Rugby v Worcester Warriors, Sunday September 7, KO
14:40 (Live on Sky Sports HD)
On Sunday, Ashton Gate is set to stage what should be a truly
compelling first fixture as a Championship venue. New tenants
Bristol and the visiting Warriors have both lost on the opening day
for the past two seasons - a record they will be desperate to
change south of the River Avon. Worcester have dominated recent
games between the two, winning all four encounters when they last
graced this level four years ago. Bristol's last win over the
Warriors was a 37-18 win in the Premiership, on 29th March 2009.
The game is being broadcast live on Sky Sports.
Cornish Pirates v Yorkshire Carnegie, Sunday September 7,
Yorkshire Carnegie (the Headingley-based club having dropped Leeds
from their title to embrace the whole of the White Rose County)
start life with a long trip down to the South West for a game
against Cornish Pirates. Carnegie ended a five-year wait for a win
in the Duchy when they beat the Pirates 27-20 in last season's
corresponding fixture. Carnegie will have to win on the opening day
for the first time in six seasons if they are to repeat the trick
and hand new head coach Gary Mercer a winning start.
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