RFU Championship Round 11 preview
A gap is starting to develop between the top four sides and the rest as we approach the halfway point of the regular Championship season.
Eight points separate Leeds Carnegie, who occupy the fourth and final play-off spot, from 2010 losing finalists Bristol who will need to beat London Scottish on Friday night or risk losing further ground. Bristol did the double over Scottish last season, winning the corresponding game at the Memorial Stadium, 32-13.
Newcastle top the standings by some margin having extended their winning run to 10 games with victory away to Jersey. Seven of those victories have come with a bonus point. The Falcons entertain Plymouth Albion in Round 11 under the floodlights at Kingston Park on Friday evening, the Devon outfit being the only side they have yet to play. It will be the first league meeting between the sides since the 1991/92 Courage League National Division Two campaign, when Newcastle Gosforth, as they were then known, finished fourth in English rugby’s second tier and Plymouth were relegated.
Clive Griffiths will look to shore up Doncaster’s porous defence on his return to Castle Park as Director of Professional Rugby. The Knights have conceded 307 points in 10 games. Only Jersey, their opponents in south Yorkshire on Friday night, and London Scottish have shipped more. Doncaster and Jersey find themselves in the bottom two positions in the Championship table, three points adrift of 10th-placed Moseley.
Moseley are at home to Rotherham in Saturday’s solitary Championship fixture. Historically Rotherham have held the upper hand in games between the two sides with 18 wins to Moseley’s eight in 26 league fixtures stretching back to 1996. Moseley are without a win in five league games and are still waiting to break their Championship duck at home this term, while the Titans, who are coached by Alex Codling for the first time, are on the back of a two-game losing run.
Nottingham have gone seven games without a win in fixtures against Cornish Pirates, but they will go the Mennaye Field on Sunday in buoyant mood after climbing to second with victory over Doncaster last weekend. The Green & Whites put a half-century of points on the Knights, running in eight tries to take their tally for the season to an impressive 45 – only one less than Newcastle. Nottingham’s last success away to the Pirates was a 31-20 win on September 28, 2008.
Otley’s picturesque Cross Green ground plays host to Bedford Blues on Sunday as Leeds stage their third "on the road" game of the season. Carnegie are on a good run of form, winning four of their last five fixtures, while the Blues have bounced back from their defeat to Newcastle at the start of November with two straight victories. Leeds won last season’s corresponding fixture 21-17 and the promotion play-off game at Headingley ended all-square at 24-24.
Round 11 fixtures
Friday November 30
Bristol Rugby v London Scottish, KO 19.45
Doncaster Knights v Jersey, KO 19.45
Newcastle Falcons v Plymouth Albion, KO 20.00
Saturday December 1
Moseley v Rotherham Titans, KO 12.45
Sunday December 2
Cornish Pirates v Nottingham, KO 14.00
Leeds Carnegie v Bedford Blues, KO 15.00