Anglo-Irish affair in British & Irish Cup semi-finals
The 2012-13 B&I Cup semi-finals sees an Anglo-Irish line-up, with Championship leaders Newcastle Falcons facing fellow title contenders Bedford Blues and Irish provinces Munster A and Leinster A going head-to-head on the weekend of April 27and 28.
Current title holders Munster ‘A’ ensured their semi-final spot with the narrowest of victories over Cornish Pirates, who claimed the trophy in 2010 with a win over the Irishmen. In a tense encounter at The Mennaye Field, Munster ‘A’ produced the only tries of the fixture, courtesy of Danny Barnes and Ronan O’Mahony. The home side’s nine points came off the boot of Aaron Penberthy, with the game finishing 9-10 in what proved to be a successful weekend for the Irish province.
From across the Emerald Isle, Leinster ‘A’ achieved their spot in the final four with a closely contested victory over RFU Championship side Bristol Rugby, ending 26-30. With just a single point between the sides at half-time, the visitors conceded two scores in the second half to end their Cup run. Despite scores from Mariano Sambucetti and Ross Johnson, Bristol were unable to undo the deficit and with Fionn Carr crossing the line for Leinster, the Dublin side pushed into the final four.
Newcastle and Bedford will represent England’s second tier, following comprehensive victories by both home teams this weekend. Newcastle showed the greatest margin, holding off fellow promotion hopefuls Nottingham to a huge 72-17 victory at Kingston Park. Three tries in the space of eight minutes from the Falcons set the tone for clash on Friday night, followed by six more scores after the break against a young Nottingham outfit. The victory sees Newcastle continue their winning streak to 27, yet to drop a single game in either the league or Cup this season.
Finally, Bedford Blues complete the semi-final line up for the second time, having reached the 2011 British & Irish Cup final, only to lose out to Bristol Rugby. The Blues beat Llanelli RFC 32-18 at Goldington Road, with fly-half Jake Sharp claiming 22 of the points, in addition to two tries from London Wasps bound wing Josh Bassett. Despite strong competition from the Welsh Principality side, Llanelli were unable to close the gap leaving the RFU Championship side on the road to a semi-final place.
British & Irish Cup semi-finals, w/e April 27and 28.
SF1: Bedford Blues vs Newcastle Falcons
SF2: Munster ‘A’ vs Leinster ‘A’
The final will be played at the home venue of SF1.