Greene King IPA Championship Round 7 preview
Yorkshire rivals Leeds Carnegie and Rotherham Titans will meet for the 19th time in league rugby at Headingley Carnegie on Sunday.
With experience of Premiership rugby in the last decade and, in Leeds' case, senior rugby silverware won following their Powergen Cup success of 2005, it's fair to say both sides have come a long way since their first-ever league clash: a 17-8 win for the Titans in the old Division 4 on October 1, 1994.
The head-to-had record currently stands all-square at nine wins apiece, with two of Leeds' victories coming in their only season together in the Premiership, in 2003/04. In recent years Rotherham have won at Headingley in the Championship promotion play-offs and in the British & Irish Cup, but not in the regular season since they famously spoiled Leeds' promotion party with a 32-29 win on April 22, 2007.
Four more former Premiership sides are in action on Sunday in what promises to be an exciting climax to Round 7 of the Greene King IPA Championship. League leaders London Welsh are at home to Bristol, while Cornish Pirates take on Bedford Blues and London Scottish host Jersey.
Table-topping Welsh made it six wins from six with a 31-24 victory away to Leeds in round six. They hold a one-point lead over Bristol, who came from behind to beat Plymouth Albion 38-31 at Brickfields – their seventh win in a row in all competitions. Welsh only beat Bristol once in four attempts during their Championship-winning campaign of 2012.
On current form Cornish Pirates will fancy their chances of beating a Bedford side that finds itself third from bottom of the Championship table. Last season's finalists lost for the fifth time in the league on Sunday when they were beaten 26-24 by Nottingham at Meadow Lane. The home side won on both occasions when London Scottish and Jersey did battle in the 2012/13 campaign, Scottish winning the corresponding fixture at The Athletic Ground, 41-33.
Ealing Trailfinders and Plymouth Albion, the two sides with the poorest defensive records in the league, have the honour of getting Round 7 underway when they do battle at Vallis Way on Friday evening. Whilst James Shanahan will be unhappy with the amount of points his side are leaking (179 to Ealing's 184), from an attacking perspective there is much for Albion's new boss to be pleased with. In Tom Bowen they have one of the top finishers in the league – his hat-trick against Bristol took his overall tally to six, and their return of three try bonus points after just six rounds is only one fewer than they managed in the whole of last season.
Saturday's solitary fixture sees Moseley up against Nottingham at Billesley Common. Nottingham have won 11 matches in a row at this level against the Birmingham-based side.
Round 7 fixtures
Friday November 8
Ealing Trailfinders v Plymouth Albion, KO 19:45
Saturday November 9
Moseley v Nottingham Rugby, KO 15:00
Sunday November 10
London Scottish v Jersey, KO 14:00
London Welsh v Bristol Rugby, KO 14:30
Cornish Pirates v Bedford Blues, KO 15:00
Leeds Carnegie v Rotherham Titans, KO 15:00