Greene King IPA Championship play-offs preview, 2nd leg
It is still all to play for in the Greene King IPA Championship play-offs after narrow victories for Bristol Rugby and Leeds Carnegie in the first of the two-legged semi-finals.
Bristol will take a slender three-point lead into the return leg at Sheffield RUFC's Abbeydale Park ground on Saturday, kick off 18:05pm, after a 17-14 victory over Rotherham at the Memorial Stadium, while Leeds hold a seven-point advantage thanks to a 38-31 win over London Welsh at Headingley.
Rotherham stunned the home faithful after building up a 9-0 half-time lead through the boot of Juan Pablo Socino. But the second-half sin-binning of Josh Thomas-Brown proved costly for the Titans, Bristol scoring twice in his absence – with prop Gaston Cortes rumbling over from a driving maul and Luke Eves finishing off a thrilling counterattack.
Mitch Eadie supplied a third try for the West Country outfit, Nicky Robinson converting to stretch Bristol's lead to eight points. But Rotherham refused to lie down and hit back with a last-gasp try in the corner for Jamie Broadley.
Andy Robinson's men are on a five-game winning streak in all competitions against their opponents, the Titans' last victory coming on October 6, 2012. Rotherham have yet to beat a fellow top four side this season.
Glyn Hughes unerring accuracy with the boot helped Leeds win a thrilling contest at Headingley. Hughes, the former Northampton fly-half, kicked nine from nine to add to tries from centre duo, Rob Vickerman and Fred Burdon and three points from the boot of Alex Lozowski, who struck with the last kick of the match, as Leeds beat London Welsh at the third time of asking this season.
The regular season meeting between the two sides at the Kassam Stadium back in January ended in a 19-10 win for London Welsh. Justin Burnell's side has only lost once in Oxford in 10 outings: 13-5 v London Scottish, on December 21, 2013.
However the four previous clashes when London Welsh were the home side all ended in Leeds' favour – and by a considerable margin: 39-29 (2011/12), 38-0 (2008/09), 38-18 (2006/07) and 35-12 (2000/01).
Greene King IPA Championship play-offs, 2nd leg:
Saturday May 17: Rotherham Titans v Bristol Rugby, KO 1805
Sunday May 18: London Welsh v Leeds Carnegie, KO 1245