RFU Championship Round 21 preview
St Peter plays host to one of the most important Championship matches of the season when Jersey entertain relegation rivals Doncaster on Saturday.
Doncaster go into the ‘must-win’ clash six points adrift of the Islanders and fully aware that they desperately need to close the gap before they play their game in hand against Bedford on Wednesday April 17.
Should Jersey win and the Knights fail to take anything from the game the Yorkshire side’s eight-year stay at this level will sadly be over.
Doncaster came out on top the last time the sides met – a 22-17 victory on the final day of November helping to give Clive Griffiths’ tenure as Professional Director of Rugby the perfect start.
A similar result would change the complexion of the relegation battle entirely and the Knights will take a lot of heart from the way they pushed second-placed Nottingham so close in front of the TV cameras as they go in search of their first away win of the season.
Indeed, Doncaster have only picked up one point on their travels – at Plymouth on the opening day, while four of Jersey’s five Championship wins have come at St Peter.
Round 11 – the midpoint of the campaign - also marked Alex Codling’s first match in charge of Rotherham and he, like Griffiths, started with a win. Saturday’s opponents Moseley were beaten 20-16 at Billesley Common, a brace of tries from Peter Homan and one from star full-back Fergus Mulchrone seeing the Titans take the points.
On the same day Bedford will look to do the double over Leeds Carnegie having won 45-25 in Yorkshire. Referee Ian Tempest was forced to abandon that particular game 15 minutes early after the Cross Green playing surface froze mid-match due to sub-zero temperatures.
While that was one of Leeds’s worst performances for some time one of their best came at Goldington Road in last season’s corresponding fixture against the Blues. Carnegie ran in five tries on their way to a 45-28 bonus-point win.
Leeds featured in the only Championship match to be played last weekend: a 29-20 win away to Moseley moving them back into the play-off places at the expense of Bristol.
Newcastle will grace the Brickfields playing surface for the first time in a competitive fixture when they take on Plymouth on Saturday. Only twice have the sides met in Devon before – at Beacon Park in the late 1980s and early 90s, with Albion winning on each occasion.
A first-ever Championship win over Bristol at the Athletic Ground on Saturday would boost London Scottish’s chances of a top half finish. The Exiles are a point behind sixth-placed Cornish Pirates who face two games in four days with a midweek trip to Rotherham preceding their home fixture against Nottingham. The Pirates are unbeaten in their last nine games in all competitions against the Green & Whites.
Wednesday April 10
Rotherham Titans v Cornish Pirates, KO 17:15
Saturday April 13
Bedford Blues v Leeds Carnegie, KO 15.00
Jersey v Doncaster Knights, KO 15:00
London Scottish v Bristol, KO 15.00
Plymouth Albion v Newcastle Falcons, KO 15.00
Rotherham Titans v Moseley, KO 15.00
Sunday April 14
Nottingham v Cornish Pirates, KO 15.00 13:15, Live on Sky Sports HD