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British & Irish Cup Round 6 preview: B&I Cup logo

British & Irish Cup Round 6 preview

Four quarter-final places are still up for grabs as the British & Irish Cup enters what should be a fascinating final round of pool fixtures.

Reigning cup holders Leinster 'A', inaugural champions Cornish Pirates and Rotherham Titans are already certain to go through to the knockout stages as pool winners while Bristol's total of 23 points guarantees them one of the two runners-up spots at the very least.

Bristol's clash against Leeds Carnegie at Headingley promises to be one of the ties of the round with the Championship title rivals separated by just two points at the top of Pool 5. Saturday's tie will be the third time the sides have played each other this season, the current head-to-head record standing at one win apiece. Leeds produced one of their best performances of the season to win 28-22 in the televised Championship fixture at the Memorial Stadium on December 1, while, six weeks earlier, Bristol prevailed by 21 points to 17 in the first round of the B&I Cup. Leeds need two points to be mathematically certain of maintaining their interest in the competition. Any form of win for Bristol would see them drawn at home in the quarter-finals as one of the top four seeds.

Plymouth and Munster A are locked together at the top of the pool on 18 points apiece with trips to Nottingham and Stirling respectively to come in Round 6. Wins for either would result in qualification. If that transpires and the sides are still level on points then point’s difference will be used to determine who win the pool. Plymouth are currently on +77 compared to Munster's +51.

Virtually all permutations are possible in Pool 2 where only Edinburgh Academicals have nothing but pride to play for. London Scottish currently lead the way on 20 points and will go through as pool winners if they pick up two points or more from their clash with London Welsh at the Athletic Ground on Saturday. Welsh need a four-point differential win at the very least to have any chance of going through, while Pontypridd must pick up maximum points at home to wooden spoonists Edinburgh Academicals and hope that Welsh beat Scottish with neither side picking up any bonus points.

Cornish Pirates are certain of top seed status in the quarter-finals if they achieve a better result than either Leinster A or Bristol Rugby from their Friday night trip to Ulster Ravens. Leinster A are away to Ealing Trailfinders the same evening. Pool 3 winners Rotherham look certain to be drawn away even if they beat Bedford at Goldington for the first time in eight years.

Round 6 fixtures

Friday January 17
Ulster Ravens v Cornish Pirates, KO 19:30
Ealing Trailfinders v Leinster A, KO 19:45

Saturday January 18
Aberavon v Gala, KO 14:00
Ayr v Jersey, KO 14:00
Bedford Blues v Rotherham Titans, KO 14:00
Connacht Eagles v Llanelli, KO 14:00
London Scottish v London Welsh, KO 14:00
Leeds Carnegie v Bristol Rugby, KO 14:00
Moseley v Cross Keys, KO 14:00
Nottingham Rugby v Plymouth Albion, KO 13:00
Pontypridd v Edinburgh Academicals, KO 14:00
Stirling County v Munster A, KO 14:00

Pool 1PWDLFABPPts
Leinster550015757323
Cross Keys530288102214
Moseley5104979837
Ealing 51046414904
         
Pool 2PWDLFABPPts
London Scottish540116599420
London Welsh5302180101416
Pontypridd5302153107416
Edinburgh Acads50055524600
         
Pool 3PWDLFABPPts
Rotherham Titans540113672218
Llanelli520317598513
Bedford5203113109311
Connacht52037321808
         
Pool 4PWDLFABPPts
Plymouth Albion540113154218
Munster540111665218
Nottingham520311496210
Stirling County50054419000
         
Pool 5PWDLFABPPts
Bristol550024238323
Leeds Carnegie540124558521
Aberavon51046127204
Gala50054522500
         
Pool 6PWDLFABPPts
Cornish Pirates550017068424
Jersey5203104114311
Ulster520312015219
Ayr510410916926