RFU Championship News. Previews of all the Round 3 games. All the teams plus news and comment
Friday, 16 September 2011
Nottingham v Esher, 19:45
Plymouth Albion v Rotherham Titans, 19:45
Saturday, 17 September 2011
Bedford v London Welsh, 15:00
Doncaster v Moseley, 14:30
London Scottish v Cornish Pirates, 14:00
Sunday, 18 September 2011
Leeds Carnegie v Bristol, 13:00
GLENN Delaney has warned his players to beware of injury-ravaged Esher when they entertain the southerners in the Championship at Meadow Lane tonight.
Esher have lost 17 senior players to injuries or World Cup calls and successive defeats to Plymouth and Bedford has left them at the foot of the Championship.
But Delaney, who is the Green and Whites director of rugby, is convinced they will be ready for a battle tonight.
He said: "They will have a load of guys from Harlequins or Wasps.
"I don't think they will be wanting for players. There are a lot of guys at the moment who aren't playing much rugby because there are not any A league games.
"I'd expect Wasps or Harlequins will look after them. They will have good players.
"They may not be as cohesive as they would be if they were playing together all the time.
"That will be in our favour and we will be going out there to try to force teams like Esher to play against us and against our style.
"We want to make sure we have a defined style that teams have to come to play to our level.
"We won't be worrying about what the opposition is doing. We want to make sure that we actually do what we want to do and do it well, so we are not changing our style to suit the opposition."
Full Story www.thisisnottingham.co.uk
The Green and Whites will be led by captain Craig Hammond as they bid for their first home win of the season and confidence is high.
Friday night matches always prove to be popular at Meadow Lane and the team will be hoping to capitalise on their recent strong performances
Nottingham’s Director of Rugby Glenn Delaney said: “It’s great to get started with a good performance and a win, now is the opportunity to build on it and continue to improve.
“Friday night at home is always a highlight and we can’t wait to go out there and compete. The key to being successful against Esher will be maintaining structure on the game. We want gain lines defined and then we can play at our tempo.”
MIKE SCHMID admits Esher’s injury problems have hit crisis level ahead of the difficult trip to Nottingham.
The Esher chief has lost 17 senior players to injuries or World Cup calls and successive defeats to Plymouth and Bedford has left them at the foot of the Championship.
But Schmid insists he was still proud of his players’ attitude in the eight-try 55-6 home defeat by Bedford on Saturday.
Schmid admitted: "I’ve never known an injury list like this. The depth of injuries is hurting us. It’s frightening. I can only hope that we are getting our season’s quota in now.
"It’s not as if we can bring in four or five players into the squad because we can’t afford it.
"I’ve been on the phone to Conor O’Shea at Harlequins and James Wade at Wasps and they are going to try and help us if they can.
"But I’ve never had a situation where you have lost four scrum-halves and both your top two fly-halves all at the same time."
But Schmid insists there is no panic at the Surrey club even though they are already facing an uphill fight to achieve their top-eight target in the Championship.
And he called for his side to upset the odds and have a real crack at Nottingham, who won 20-10 at Moseley last weekend after being edged out by Bedford in their opening clash.
Schmid said: "We have got to make sure we work as hard as we possibly can for each other at Nottingham.
"Even though we lost heavily to Bedford, the boys stuck at it throughout and I cannot fault their effort and work-rate.
"We did some good things in the first half against Bedford but failed to take a couple of chances and then we turned the ball over at crucial times. The skill execution was not good enough.
1. Jonny Harris, 2. Jo Duffey, 3. Ryan Bower, 4. Lee Morley, 5. Craig Hammond
6. Rupert Cooper, 7. Phil Eggleshaw, 8. Alex Shaw
9. Nathan Jones, 10. Keiron Hallett, 11. Mike Penn, 12. Juan Pablo Socino
13. Ayoola Erinlie, 14. Joe Cobden, 15. David Jackson
Charlie Clare, Matt Sheilds, Jonny Baird, Jethro Rawling, Finlay Barnham
Jack Bradford, Dante Mama
15 Kirby, 14 Stegmann, 13 Loizides, 12 Cruickshanks, 11 Wright
10 Mill, 9 Cook, 8 Macfarlane, 7 Stitcher, 6 Downey
5 Kench 4 Parker, 3 Nebbett, 2 Buchanan, 1 Boot
16 Gethings, 17 Mackie, 18 Doherty, 19 Renwick, 20 Synnott
21 Edgerley, 22 Lindsay-Hague
Plymouth Albion are boosted by the return of captain Sean-Michael Stephen for tonight's Championship clash with Rotherham Brickfields.
Stephen's return from a hip injury is one of two changes to chairman of rugby Graham Dawe's starting XV.
The other switch sees Rob Dugard take over at tight-head prop from Ryan Hopkins, who is on the replacements' bench.
Stephen picked up the problem in Albion's season-opening league fixture at home to Esher and, consequently, missed last Saturday's defeat at London Welsh.
Making way for Canada international Stephen is Ivybridge teenager Addison Lockley, who Dawe admits is "desperately unlucky" to lose his place in the forwards.
The only other doubt for Dawe was over lock Dan Collier, who limped off with an ankle injury in last week's 34-23 defeat to the Exiles at Old Deer Park.
But Collier, like Stephen, came through a rigorous training session and was passed fit to face Rotherham.
Dawe believes Rotherham will be tough opponents in what the Albion chief expects to be an entertaining and keenly-contested fixture.
He said: "Rotherham will be a very hard team to beat. We'll be concentrating on what we have to do win this rugby match and then move on to our next game. We must get over this hurdle first and Rotherham will be looking to do the same.
"We'll have to be disciplined in defence and not allow ourselves to give Rotherham any advantage. The players know what they've got to do and we've been preparing in training all week.
Full Story www.thisisdevon.co.uk
Albion Preview www.plymouthalbion.com
After the euphoria of Rotherham Titans victory over local rivals Leeds Carnegie, Titans head coach Andre Bester makes just two changes to his starting 15 for the away trip to Plymouth Albion on Friday evening.
The changes are part of Bester’s squad rotation policy and sees Stephen Hamilton make his debut at full back in place of Cliffie Hodgson.Hamilton, formerly of Blackheath, arrived in the summer from fellow Championship sideNottingham.
The other change also in the back line sees Elliott Brierley come in at outside centre for Byron Godfrey. Brierley, formerly of Macclesfield and Wilmslow also joined the club in the summer and he too makes his debut.
Plymouthaway is seen as a difficult challenge and the stats back that up. In 8 previous league visits Titans have only come away victorious on two occasions. Although, overall Rotherham just edge the head to head in league meetings between the clubs 8-7, with one draw.
Bester is under no illusions to the difficulty of the task ahead of his side and commented,“It will be a very hard away game, it always is down there. Plymouth had a very good away performance against London Welsh last time out and like ourselves Plymouth have been written off pre-season and they are standing up to deliver.
“Last year when we went down there we were on a roll and they gave us a good hiding. So we are acutely aware of just how tough a challenge Plymouth will present.
But we intend to set the record straight because I haven’t won down in Plymouth in my four previous attempts.” Jamie Kilbane will start at Plymouth providing he comes through a fitness test on a knee injury he picked up in the victory over Leeds.
Guy Williams writing in the Star says Rotherham’s new flanker, Irishman Robin Copeland, who scored a try on his home debut in Sunday’s win against Leeds Carnegie, returns to his former club tonight.
Copeland joined Titans after one season at Plymouth and will be keen to impress against his old team mates, but the recent record against tonight’s opposition is far from good.
Albion have won six of the last seven games at home between the two sides. However, the improvement in Rotherham’s form at Clifton Lane on Sunday against Leeds suggests their pack, with Copeland playing a major back-row role, will be far more competitive this season.
As he prepared his squad for their second away match, Bester has been stressing that if Rotherham’s poor record at Plymouth is to be overturned, it is essential that there is no repeat of the indiscipline which conceded almost a dozen penalties against Leeds.
With both Dawe and Bester basing their game plans on a battle between rival packs, this evening’s result will depend on how much territory and ball the forwards can win, and then cashing in on the promising positions they
Full Story www.thestar.co.uk
Love, McGrath, Armitage, Fisilau, Mitchell
Bailey, Cushion, Morton, Evans, Dugard
Collier, Stephen (capt), Stupple, Sprangle, Hocking.
Reps: Farnham, Lee, McGregor, Hopkins, Lewis, Lockley, Tyas.
15 Stephen Hamilton, 14 Shane Monahan, 13 Elliott Brierley, 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Peter Homan
10 Garry Law, 9 Jimmy Williams, 1 Jamie Kilbane, 2 Dan Baines, 3 Ben Hooper
4 Neale Patrick, 5 Adrian Griffiths, 6 Robin Copeland, 7 Sean Dougall (Capt), 8 Semisi Taulava.
Bedford Blues are all set for their first home game of the Championship season and the challenge doesn't get much tougher than a visit from London Welsh.
A match against the Exiles is much like a derby game and with both teams sporting a 100 per cent record in the league so far, there is everything to play for come 3pm on Saturday.
The injury picked up by Mike Howard was the only downside to an impressive 55-6 victory away at Esher last Saturday and the Blues will be hoping for much of the same this weekend.
Blues director of rugby Mike Rayer reverts to the same team that started against Nottingham with the one exception of Sean Tomes starting in place of Howard.
Speaking ahead of the game Rayer said: "All of the lads are really excited about performing at home for the first time and I think that the challenge London Welsh pose will be a good marker of where we stand."
BEDFORD will welcome back talisman Sacha Harding for this week’s encounter with London Welsh as the Blues make their first appearance of the season at Goldington Road on Saturday, writes James Heneghan in Bedford Today.
Looking ahead to the game, director of rugby Mike Rayer said: “There’ll be changes again. We’re not picking from a massive squad and we’ve got a midweek game next week too, so we’ve got to manage it well.
“It’s a big few days coming up with London Welsh on Saturday, Esher midweek and then Rotherham so we’ve got to be prepared.
“We normally have some really exciting games against Welsh.
“They’re a positive side and play some good rugby and so do we so it should be a good game.”
“We’ve had some real tough and exciting battles with London Welsh in the past several years and I don’t expect anything different this weekend.
Full Story www.bedfordtoday.co.uk
London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones makes five changes from the starting line up which maintained the Exiles’ winning start to the Championship season against Plymouth.
Last year’s Player’s Player of the Year Hudson Tonga’uiha comes in for his first start of the new season, having made an appearance off the bench in last Saturday’s 34-23 win over Albion at Old Deer Park.
There’s a double change in the front row with Vili Ma’asi and James Tideswell starting in place of Dan George and Greg Bateman, who both drop to the bench.
Gary Johnson partners Matt Corker in the second row in place of Mike Powell, while there’s also a change in the back row with Mike Denbee coming in for Michael Hills.
“Revolving the squad is important,” said Jones. “The boys who’ve played so far have played well; it’s just unfortunate that they’re not involved.
“Hudson is a quality player and Bedford are a quality outfit. He’s disappointed from not making Tonga’s World Cup squad and he’s got a lot of catching up to do to get him match fit.”
It’s an early season top of the table clash at Goldington Road with both sides having won their opening two Championship fixtures, and Jones is expecting a tough test for the Exiles.
“I’ve watched Bedford play and they are a very good side, and I don’t just say that I mean it,” he said.
“They’re well coached, well organised, well motivated, they’re fit and they’re fast, and we’ve got our work cut out to get what we want from our visit to Goldington Road.
“But that’s what the boys are in it for, they want to be pushed and to play to the maximum, and I’m sure Bedford are going to do that.”
For Jones, cool heads will need to prevail if Welsh are to register their first win at Goldington Road since January 2009. Their three visits since have yielded three defeats, although two losing bonus points in the sides’ two Championship meetings, while the other was a comprehensive win for the Blues in the British & Irish Cup.
“Rugby isn’t played in the bicep, it’s played upstairs. It’s about who can keep their clam and their cool in pressure situations, and there are going to be several,” added Jones.
“The test is there for the players to show that they are quality players who can go up a league.”
15. Brendan Burke 14. Handre Schmidt 13. Ollie Dodge 12. Tom Bedford 11. David Vincent
10. Jamie Lennard 9. Darryl Veenendaal
1. Sam Walsh 2. Neil Cochrane 3. Phil Boulton 4. Sean Tomes 5. Paul Tupai
6. Alex Rae (c) 7. Sacha Harding 8. Jon Fisher
16. Chris Locke, 17. Dan Seal, 18. Ricky Reeves, 19. Billy Johnson, 20. Stefan Liebenberg
21. Jake Sharp, 22. Mark Kohler
15. Edd Thrower, 14. Will Hurrell, 13. Hudson Tonga’uiha*, 12. Simon Whatling, 11. Liam Gibson
10. Gordon Ross*, 9. Rob Lewis, 1. Billy Moss, 2. Vili Ma’asi *, 3. James Tideswell
4. Gary Johnson, 5. Matt Corker, 6. Jon Mills ©, 7. Mike Denbee, 8 Ed Jackson.
16. Dan George, 17. Greg Bateman, 18. Adam Brown, 19. Lee Beach, 20. Ben Stevenson, 21
Alex Davies. 22. Paul Mackey.
Brett Davey has announced his line-up for Saturday’s clash with Moseley.
Club captain Chris Hallam is set to make his first start of the season after recovering from a shoulder injury to reclaim the scrum-half jersey.
Tom Luke, who was instrumental in turning around a poor first-half performance against Cornish Pirates last weekend, will start at ten in a new half-back combination.
Outside centre, Ollie Goss also makes the starting XV for the first time this campaign, while injuries to Latu Makaafi and Michael Noone keep them sidelined.
Director of Rugby, Brett Davey is optimistic ahead of the clash with the Billesley Common side, commenting:
“Moseley have improved a lot lately and they’ve made some good signings, there is no doubt they will be a tough nut to crack.
“At Pirates we showed a glimpse of our potential and we need to build on that this week. The return of Chris Hallam should make a difference, as he’s our leader and captain, and his impact when he came on against Pirates was tremendous.
“The fact is we have to translate performance into results and win matches, we have to make Castle Park a fortress and give our supporters a huge performance. The players need to seize this chance to express what they can do.”
For its first match on the road, the Moseley squad shows three changes, one forced, after last week’s match at home to Nottingham.
Experienced hooker, Richard Protherough comes in for Adam Caves who is injured. Also in the front-row, Craig Voisey starts at the expense of Colin Quigley who moves to the bench.
The back-line, which started the season so brightly but had little change against Nottingham last week, is unchanged with the exception of a rotation at centre where Greg King starts and Andy Reay moves to the bench.
With both sides still seeking their first win, a keenly-fought contest is anticipated.
15 David McIlwaine 14 Dougie Flockhart 13 Ollie Goss 12 PJ Gidlow 11 Michael Keating
10 Tom Luke 9 Chris Hallam
1 Stuart Corsar 2 Steve Boden 3 Alex Brown 4 Glen Kenworthy 5 Dominic Parsons
6 Matt Challinor 7 David Bradford 8 Andy Boyde
16 Royce Burke-Flynn 17 Jack Yeandle 18 Andy Brown 19 Adam Kettle
20 A.N. Other 21 Lee Audis 22 Mike Whitehead
1. Voisey; 2. Protherough; 3. O’donnell; 4. Sanderson; 5. Spivey
6. l Maltman; 7. Pons; 8. Ellery
9. Brown; 10. Davies; 11. Hunt; 12. King ; 13. Adams
14. Robinson; 15. Carter; 16.
16. Neil Mason; 17. Colin Quigley; 18. Marshall Gadd; Richard Stott 19. Andy Reay; 20
Ryan Glynn; 21. Oliver Thomas; 22. Jamie Hearn
Saracens wing/centre Rodd Penney has signed on loan for London Scottish for an undisclosed period of time and goes straight into the starting line up to face Cornish Pirates on Saturday (Kick off 2pm).
Penney has made 100 appearances for Saracens since 2006, but has found first team appearances hard to come by this season, so has taken the opportunity to join up with ex-England Sevens teammate Simon Amor at Scottish.
Following the loss at Bristol last time out, Scottish have responded by making several changes. Amor starts at scrum half, with Matt Heeks dropping to the bench, and there is space for summer signing Ben Thomas at 4. Adam Kwasnicki takes Tom Standfield’s spot at hooker.
Cornish Pirates will be seeking a full 80-minute performance tomorrow when they make their first ever visit to the Richmond Athletic Ground.
The Pirates go into the game boasting an unbeaten record after their first two matches of the new season.
However, the way in which they allowed big leads to slip away against both Moseley and Doncaster Knights has attracted some heavy, and perhaps, unexpected criticism from some of their passionate supporters.
Reaching the play-off final last season, and the recent submission of plans for a Stadium for Cornwall, has raised expectation levels considerably among Pirates' followers, and understandably so.
It is now up to the players to satisfy those aspirations, but as high performance manager Chris Stirling keeps stressing, nothing is won in September.
The key is to make steady improvement as the season goes on and peak just in time for the play-offs, as the Cornishmen did last year.
Scottish are desperate to make an impact after winning promotion to the Championship, and started their campaign in impressive style with a 16-11 home victory over Rotherham Titans.
That win was put into context by the Titans' triumph over last season's Premiership bottom side Leeds Carnegie last Sunday, but Scottish were brought back down to earth with a bump the same afternoon by a hefty 32-13 reverse at Bristol.
They will be keen to get their season back on track tomorrow, and Pirates know they will be in for a tough time.
"It is two weeks on the trot where we have come out after half-time and haven't performed and it is something we need to look at," said Pirates' forwards coach Ian Davies.
"Scottish are no mugs. They won their league last season and have recruited well, mainly from Barking, who are known as a good, strong forwards-based unit, and at home you would expect them to put us under pressure.
"We have got to make sure we got up there and do a professional job."
Full Story www.thisiscornwall.co.uk
15. Bordiss 14. Penney 13. MacDougall 12. Trueman © 11. Howells
10. Mugford 9. Amor 8. Bright 7. Andrews 6. Ollie Brown
5. Josh Brown 4. Thomas 3. Liffchak 2. Kwasniki 1. Auterac
16. Clarke 17. Standfield 18. Thiede 19. Pape 20. Kellard 21. Heeks 22. James Brown
R. Cook, W. Davies, G. Pointer, T. Cooper, D. Doherty
C. Thomas, J. Doherty (capt), B. Cowan, C. Walker-Blair, D. Ewers
I. Nimmo, L. McGlone, A. Paver, R. Elloway, P. Andrew.
R. Storer, D. Ward, C. Rimmer, M. Smith, P. Burgess, G. Cattle, S. Hill.
Diccon Edwards has made four changes to his starting line up for his side's game against Bristol this Sunday at Headingley Carnegie.
Michael Stephenson, Joe Barker, Phil Swainston and Dominic Barrow are all set to make their first starts of the season, coming in for Lee Blackett, Scott Barrow, Dave Young and Sean Hohneck.
Young and Barrow will start the game on the bench, which also includes new signing Robbie Shaw, who is in contention to make his debut for the club.
Dan Hemingway, Chris Walker and Ollie Richards also make a return, having missed the team's last game, and they are amongst the replacements for Sunday's fixture.
Liam Middleton has named a largely unchanged line-up as Bristol Rugby head to Headingley to face Leeds
The Head Coach keeps faith in thirteen of the players that recorded a 32-13 win over London Scottish last Sunday.
In the backline, debutant Jon Goodridge recovers from injury to line up against his former club. The full-back spent three years at Headingley during an impressive spell with the Yorkshire side.
In the forwards, Jason Hobson returns in place of Wayne Thompson, while Josh Ovens, James Merriman and Iain Grieve continue their formidable back-row partnership.
The replacement bench sees a five forwards and two backs split.
15. Stevie McColl 14. Michael Stephenson 13. Iain Thornley 12. Joe Barker 11. Curtis Wilson
10. Joe Ford 9. Craig Hampson
1. Gareth Denman 2. Andy Titterrall (c) 3. Phil Swainston 4. Tom Denton 5. Jon Pendlebury
6. Dominic Barrow 7. Jacob Rowan 8. Ryan Burrows
16. Phil Nilsen 17. Dave Young 18. Dan Hemingway 19. Chris Walker
20. Robbie Shaw 21. Scott Barrow 22. Ollie Richards
Jon Goodridge; George Watkins, Jack Tovey, Junior Fatialofa, Matt Williams
Tristan Roberts, Tom Slater, Darren Crompton, Ross Johnston, Jason Hobson
Mariano Sambucetti, Roy Winters, Josh Ovens, James Merriman, Iain Grieve (c).
Rhys Lawrence, Mark Irish, Wayne Thompson, Darren Barry
Marco Mama, Louis Silver, Mark Davies.