Greene King IPA Championship Round 4 preview
The top two sides do battle in Round 4 of the Green King IPA Championship at Clifton Lane on Saturday when early league leaders Rotherham Titans entertain 2012 champions London Welsh.
The Titans go into the match having recorded three straight bonus-point victories – a feat they last achieved against Birmingham & Solihull, Moseley and Coventry in the 2009/10 relegation play-offs. Lee Blackett's men have brushed aside Moseley twice and newly promoted Ealing Trailfinders to earn maximum points, scoring 19 tries in the process.
London Welsh, too, have won their first three games and lie just one point behind the south Yorkshire side. The away side won on both occasions when the sides last met in the 2011/12 campaign – Welsh edging a tense battle in the corresponding fixture at Clifton Lane, 21-20.
Friday night sees a triple bill of Championship action with home games for West Country duo, Plymouth Albion and Cornish Pirates, and Leeds Carnegie.
Plymouth drew a blank on the try front for the first time this season in going down 40-9 to London Welsh at the Kassam Stadium. They will attempt to return to their free-scoring form of the opening two rounds when they take on London Scottish at Brickfields. Albion have lost just once to the Exiles in six outings.
Cornish Pirates have never lost at home to Moseley in the league since the sides came together at this level seven seasons ago. Moseley's only success in 12 Championship fixtures between the two was a 29-20 victory in the 2007/08 campaign. Last season's corresponding clash was a close run thing though. Tries from Ashley Smith (2) and Matt Evans helped the Duchy side to a 17-14 victory on a cold, spring day at the Mennaye Field.
Leeds Carnegie run out at Headingley Stadium for the first time since their memorable Championship semi-final first leg win over eventual 2013 champions Newcastle Falcons. Carnegie head into the game against Ealing Trailfinders on the back of a third win away to Bedford in as many seasons. Bottom-of-the-table Ealing will hope to fare better than on their last visit to Yorkshire which ended with a 79-9, 11-try hammering at the hands of Rotherham.
On Sunday, two former Championship finalists go head-to-head when Bristol play host to Bedford. Since their demotion to this level four years ago, Bristol have won eight of the 11 matches played in all competitions between the sides. All of the last four meetings have gone the way of the West Country outfit, with Bedford's last success at the Memorial Ground coming on October 3, 2010, when they won 23-16. Centre Luke Eves scored twice in last season's corresponding fixture: a 23-13 victory on October 28, 2012.
Nottingham take on Jersey at Meadow Lane in Sunday's other fixture. The Green & Whites, who have lost two of their first three games, completed the double over Jersey last season, winning 48-16 at home and 20-13 at St Peter.
Round 3 results
Saturday September 28
London Welsh 40 Plymouth Albion 9
Bedford Blues 28 Leeds Carnegie 29
Ealing Trailfinders 17 Cornish Pirates 31
Jersey RFC 17 Bristol Rugby 26
London Scottish 27 Nottingham Rugby 6
Moseley 21 Rotherham Titans 47
Round 4 fixtures
Friday October 4
Cornish Pirates v Moseley (KO 19.45)
Plymouth Albion v London Scottish (KO 19.45)
Leeds Carnegie v Ealing Trailfinders (KO 20.00)
Saturday October 5
Rotherham Titans v London Welsh (KO 15.00)
Sunday October 6
Bristol Rugby v Bedford Blues (KO 15.00)
Nottingham Rugby v Jersey RFC (KO 15.00)