2nd Leg Semi-Finals Previews
All the teams plus news and comment from around the clubs
Bristol Rugby v Cornish Pirates
Sunday May 13th 2012
Kick Off 12:45
Live On SKY Sports HD
London Welsh v Bedford Blues
Sunday May 7th 2012
Kick Off 15:00
Live On RFU.com
Sunday May 13th
Kick Off 12:45
Live On SKY Sports HD
Bristol prepare for the return leg of the semi-finals knowing that nothing less than the performance of the season will see them progress to the RFU Championship final.
Liam Middleton’s men must overturn a 21-point deficit at the Memorial Stadium on Sunday without skipper Iain Grieve and prop Jason Hobson among their ranks .
The Head Coach makes four changes from the side that suffered a 45-24 defeat in the first leg. Ben Glynn replaces the injured Glen Townson, while Wayne Thompson and Henry Vanderglas also come into the pack.
Matty James is preferred to Matthew Jones at fly-half and makes his first league start since February.
Will Helu, who has notched five tries during the play-off campaign, retains his place on the wing in an otherwise unchanged backline.
Middleton retains a five forwards and two backs split on the replacements bench, with Tristan Roberts and Mariano Sambucetti included in the 22-man squad.
Jon Goodridge; Jack Tovey, Fautua Otto, Luke Eves, Will Helu
Matty James, Ruki Tipuna; Mark Irish, Jason Harris-Wright, Wayne Thompson
Ben Glynn, Roy Winters, Henry Vanderglas, James Merriman (c), Dan Montagu.
Tom Channon, Mark Lilley, Mariano Sambucetti, Marco Mama
Redford Pennycook, Tom Slater, Tristan Roberts.
Cornish Pirates - The Pirates carry a healthy 21 points lead into this return encounter, but will be mindful that their job is not yet complete.
This is, in effect, only half-time, and in the knowledge that Bristol have an unbeaten record at home in the Championship this season, it will also be noted that they have also registered some hefty victories along the way.
Recording such an emphatic result in the first leg certainly drew extra attention to the Pirates, and to the Championship competition in general, as nobody but nobody would have predicted a 45-24 outcome.
Besides 'Sky' television, who had their best ever ratings for the Championship for this game, national press coverage was also unprecedented, not forgetting that supporters of Newcastle Falcons also followed the match, as they will again this coming weekend.
For Sunday's game Kyle Marriott continues at No. 8, having been a second half replacement on Monday for the injured Ben Maidment, and lock Matt Smith is named on the bench.
R. Cook, G. Pointer, S. Hill, A. Suniula, D. Doherty
C. Thomas, G. Cattle (capt), K. Marriott, P. Burgess, C. Morga
I. Nimmo, L. McGlone, A. Paver, D. Ward, C. Rimmer.
R. Storer, R. Elloway, R. Brits, M. Smith, D. Ewers, T. Kessell, M. Evans.
Sunday May 13th
Kick Off 15:00
London Welsh welcome Bedford Blues to Old Deer Park for the 2nd leg of their Championship semi-final knowing that anything less than a ten-point defeat will be good enough to take the Exiles through to the final.
Hudson Tonga’uiha’s try and eight points from the boot of full back Alex Davies gave Welsh a 13-3 win at Goldington Road seven days ago, with James Pritchard replying for the Blues.
The Exiles’ win made it two wins a piece between the sides this season.
The sides’ previous meeting at Old Deer Park saw the home side run out 25-24 winners in December. The Blues, though, nearly snatched victory with the last kick of the game, only for Jamie Lennard’s drop goal to slip wide.
Bedford’s only visit to Old Deer Park in 2010/11 also produced another tight affair, with Gordon Ross’ 79th minute penalty giving the Exiles a 25-22 win.
The 2009/10 season also produced another home win for Welsh over the Blues, 28-17, thanks to tries from Errie Claassens (2) and Paul Sampson.
Bedford’s last win at Old Deer Park came in September 2008 when they came out on top 32-23.
15. Alex Davies, 14. Nick Scott, 13. James Lewis, 12. Hudson Tonga’uiha
11. Joe Ajuwa, 10. Seb Jewell, 9. Jack Moates
1. Billy Moss, 2. Dan George, 3. James Tideswell, 4. Adam Brow
5. Matt Corker, 6. Jon Mills ©, 7. Mike Denbee, 8. Ed Jackson.
16. Vili Ma’asi, 17. Shawn Pittman, 18. Greg Bateman, 19. Gary Johnson
20. Lee Beach, 21. Rob Lewis, 22. Simon Whatling.
Bedford Blues have named the starting XV which will take on London Welsh in Sunday’s all important second leg of the RFU Championship Semi-Final.
Having lost 3-13 at Goldington Road last Friday, the Blues know that they have it all to do as they visit Old Deer Park needing to overturn a ten point deficit to reach the final of the Championship play offs.
Bedford Blues Director of Rugby Mike Rayer is picking from an almost fully fit squad but does make six changes from the team which started last week.
Jamie Lennard replaces Jake Sharp - who took a knock last Friday - at fly half while Neil Cochrane, Phil Boulton, Gregor Gillanders, Sacha Harding and Jon Fisher all start up front in place of Chris Locke, Ben Cooper, Alex Rae, Darren Fox and Don Barrell while Ian Vass comes on to the replacements bench.
15. James Pritchard (c) 14. Ollie Dodge 13. Brendan Burke 12. Henry Staff
11. Josh Bassett 10. Jamie Lennard 9. Luke Baldwin
1. Ricky Reeves 2. Neil Cochrane 3. Phil Boulton 4. Paul Tupai
5. Mike Howard 6. Gregor Gillanders 7. Sacha Harding 8. Jon Fisher
16. Chris Locke, 17. Sam Walsh, 18. Alex Rae, 19. Don Barrell
20. Darren Fox, 21. Darryl Veenendaal, 22. Ian Vass.
Bedford Blues have announced that seven more players have signed new deals to remain at Goldington Road for another season.
As Bedford prepare for the second leg of the Championship Semi Final against London Welsh, Paul Tupai, Sacha Harding, Phil Boulton, Ricky Reeves, Gregor Gillanders, Mike Howard and Jake Sharp have all inked new deals with the club.
Full Story http://www.bedfordrugby.co.uk/
Bedford have been saddened by passing away of Mark Howe last Sunday. Mark made 478 appearances for the Blues between 1976-96. He was captain 1989-90 and was currently serving on the Board of Directors.
LONG-serving Doncaster Knights’ forward Glen Kenworthy hung up his boots at the end of the club’s 2011-12 Championship campaign last month but he will not be lost to the Castle Park-based club.
The 38 year-old New Zealand-born second-rower has been appointed the club’s new head coach.
Director of rugby Brett Davey’s decision to make him his No 2 is based on the success Kenworthy made of his role as forwards’ coach in the season just finished - a post he combined with still being a player.
Ful Story www.thestar.co.uk
Brett Davey has also re-signed another three of last season’s squad.
Open-side flanker David Bradford, Loose-head prop Andy Brown and No. 8 Chris Planchant have all put pen to paper.
Full Story www.thestar.co.uk
Most Championsip clubs - if not all - will be playing league rugby in the Channel Islands for the first time.
Jersey's speedy climb up the sport's ladder has included three promotions in the last three years.
During the last four years, the club's relentless rise has been supervised by a Cornishman. Jersey's director of rugby is Redruth-born Ben Harvey. The 37-year-old former Bristol scrum-half, who played for Exeter and Exeter Saracens as a youngster, has been at the helm at St Peter since 2008.
Harvey is very proud of what has been achieved. "I think everyone has been taken by surprise by how far we've come in a short time," he told the Daily Telegraph. "We're ambitious, but things have happened very quickly."
Jersey's squad includes former Wales and Sale prop Ben Evans, while the Westcountry influence also includes the presence in their ranks of ex-Cornish All Blacks and Sidmouth second-row forward Nathan Hannay, plus former Cornish Pirates scrum-half Nicky Griffiths.
Full Story www.thisisdevon.co.uk
London Scottish have announced the signings of Dave McCall and Colin Quigley as the club continue to attract exciting Scottish talent.
25 year old Dave McCall has signed from Rotherham Titans after spending the 2011/12 season at Clifton Lane. The winger had previously spent two and a half seasons with Glasgow Warriors, experiencing Heineken Cup rugby during his time there.
Head Coach Simon Amor said of McCall: “We were very impressed with Dave. He is a real quality Championship player, and will be a fantastic asset to the club as we continue to bring Scottish talent into the squad. He has genuine pace, and will bring strength and power to our backs.”
Colin Quigley joins London Scottish from Moseley after a year at Billesley Common. The 30 year old prop from Aberdeen had previously spent two years at Rotherham Titans.
Amor on Quigley: “He has been involved in the Championship for a number of years and performed exceptionally well against us in the recent playoffs, both as a scrummager and a ball carrier. He will add to what is already a very strong London Scottish front row.”
Full Story /www.londonscottish.com
London Welsh have released the following statement:
Championship Play-Offs: Eligibility for the Aviva Premiership
The Board of London Welsh ('LW') would like to comment on recent press reports regarding the eligibility or otherwise of certain clubs, presently involved in the Championship Play-Offs, to gain promotion to the Premiership in the event of their winning such Play-Offs.
So far as LW are concerned, we have cooperated fully with PMP Legacy, the consultants appointed by the RFU and Premiership Rugby, and have given them every assistance to conduct an audit on two grounds we are considering for use next Season in the event we win the Championship. LW have also had discussions with two other clubs whose grounds it believes would already satisfy the MSC and would thus not require a technical audit (indeed these grounds have in the past Season hosted, for example, Premiership and Heineken Cup games).
As regards Primacy of Tenure, LW have expressed to the RFU and Premiership Rugby our complete confidence that we will be in a position to effect any necessary arrangements in a timely fashion to satisfy also any such requirements and well in advance of the start of the next season to enable the Aviva Premiership fixture list to be prepared in the usual manner.
LW have thus far not been advised by PMP Legacy, the RFU or Premiership Rugby that we would not be considered suitable to play in the Premiership should we win the Championship. Indeed we have engaged in the Play-Offs in the good faith and understanding that having submitted ourselves to the Audit process we would be eligible for promotion if we win the Championship.
London Welsh Rugby Football Club Ltd
Adam Brown, Dan George, Ashley Smith and Billy Moss are the latest players to pledge their futures to London Welsh.
A Wales U19 Grand Slam winner in 2006, Brown has been ever present in the Exiles’ second row this season, making 28 appearances in all competitions. His debut try for the club came in the play-off win over Nottingham at Old Deer Park.
George is in his second spell at London Welsh. The hooker originally arrived at Old Deer Park in 2008 and helped the club reach a Championship semi-final in 2010.
Welsh have also moved to make Moss’s season long loan deal from Bath a permanent move, with the prop having made 27 appearances for the club this season
Smith, 20, began the season at London Welsh on trial, but has done enough over the season to impress head coach Lyn Jones.
Full Story www.london-welsh.co.uk/
Moseley have seen a number of players depart for greener pastures including Andy Reay, Colin Quigley and Paul Spivey moving to London Scottish, Dan Sanderson to Rotherham Titans and Mike Ellery and Michael Maltman to the IRB Sevens circuit.
However they have re-signed Brad Davies, Ollie Thomas, Sam Brown, Greg King and Craig Voisey.
Nottingham Rugby's most decorated captain is leaving the club for the opportunity of a life-time in Hong Kong.
After a decade-long career with the Green and Whites, skippering the side a record 227 times, Craig Hammond has accepted a job as player-coach of Hong Kong Scottish.
Until the 33-year-old lock got a phone call out of the blue from the Oriental rugby hot-bed, he was considering a contract extension to stay with Nottingham and was busy planning his testimonial year with the RFU Championship club.
But when invited to tour the facilities of the Premiership club in the City-State last week, Hammond simply couldn't resists taking the bold step into management and penned a two-year deal with outfit.
"It's been an emotional decision to come to, leaving a club, a city and people that have been so good to me for so long for an exciting chance to further my career in an amazing place like Hong Kong," said Hammond, who will be relocating with his wife and three children in June.
Full Story www.nottinghamrugby.co.uk
Plymouth Albion - NAT SAUMI wants to keep the bulk of Plymouth Albion's current squad together because he feels the players have yet to fulfil their potential in the Championship.
Albion's Fijian head coach is in on-going negotiations to re-sign the core of the team for the 2012-13 campaign. It is expected he will announce the first players to have put pen to paper on new deals in the next couple of days.
Although Albion finished second-from-bottom in the regular league season, Saumi felt the team would have been more successful had it not been for the coaching transitions during the year.
Albion went through three head coaches in two months midway through the campaign and Saumi, who ended up as the club's director of rugby after working under both Graham Dawe and Peter Drewett, felt the players were affected by the changes.
Ful Story www.thisisplymouth.co.uk