The Greene King IPA Championship could not return from its mini-break with a more intriguing set of fixtures as the top four are in action against each other in Round 9.
Table-toppers Bristol Rugby have racked up 97 points in their last two games but meet a Doncaster Knights side that are in third place on a run of form themselves.
Though the Knights have to go back to November 2010 for their last league victory over Bristol, Clive Griffiths' men will be confident after successive wins over Bedford Blues and Cornish Pirates.
And it's likely they'll have to shut down Bristol's two biggest dangermen in order to do so – Gavin Henson has notched 86 points this year while Ollie Robinson, alongside Nottingham's Paul Grant, leads the league with ten tries. Both are nominated in October's Player of the Month award.
However, Doncaster can do damage through their own wrecking ball, back-rower Latu Makaafi, who has nine tries to his name.
Bristol may be playing free-flowing rugby but Yorkshire Carnegie have had no trouble sniffing out the try-line themselves as they travel to Bedford Blues on Saturday.
Carnegie, who are in second, have collected six try-bonus points already this year and responded to their thrilling 47-42 defeat at the hands of Bristol with a 52-19 triumph over Moseley last time out.
But in order to keep the pressure on Bristol, Carnegie must end the fourth-place Blues' unbeaten home record in the Championship this season – they've played three and won three at Goldington Road.
The schedule has also shaken out an enticing fixture between fifth and sixth, Rotherham Titans and Nottingham, at the Bay on Sunday.
And you can expect a close one – Rotherham have a points difference of -7 and Nottingham of +1, suggesting both sides will be going blow for blow as they look to catch up to the top four.
London Scottish are out to respond after a winless month against Jersey, who have snared two losing bonus points from their last two games.
The Exiles' last victory came on October 3 and they have been involved in some extremely tight clashes of late – four of their five last matches have been settled by four points or fewer.
London Welsh are also looking to halt their slide away from the top four after a run of three defeats out of four, starting against Ealing Trailfinders.
And while Ealing are currently anchored to the bottom of the table, no team has scooped up more losing bonus points – four – than the newly-promoted side.
Elsewhere, Cornish Pirates and Moseley meet in a bid to banish the memories of two disappointing performances in round eight – Moseley lost 52-19 at Carnegie while the Pirates went down at home 40-10 to Bristol.
And hosts Moseley will be hoping that the recent pattern continues as the home side have won the last five clashes between the two.
To download statistics from round eight, please click here.
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