RFU Championship News. Previews of all the Round 6 games. All the teams plus news and comment
|Friday 7 October 2011||Saturday 8 October 2011|
|Bristol v Nottingham 19:45
Sunday 9 October 2011
Cornish Pirates v Bedford 15:00
|Doncaster v Plymouth Albion 14:30
London Scottish v Leeds 15:00
Moseley v London Welsh 15:00
Rotherham Titans v Esher 15:00
London Welsh head to Moseley having won on their last five visits to Billesley Common, but at least the Birmingham side will be spared the sight of last season’s tormentor- in- chief, Fijian flyer Josh Drauninui, who scored four tries in a 68-22 victory before signing for Worcester in the summer. Instead, No.8 Ed Jackson is the man to watch: the No.8 stands joint top of the Championship try- scoring charts, although he failed to add to his tally in last Friday’s 3-37 win over Esher.
That victory sent London Welsh top of English rugby’s second tier for the first time since the introduction of league rugby in 1987. However, a hard- fought derby win for Cornish Pirates over Plymouth ensured their stay at the summit lasted for less than 24 hours.
The Pirates will look to maintain top spot with victory at home to Bedford Blues this weekend. The sides have met 24 times at this level, the Duchy outfit being in front on the head- to- head count by 13 wins to Bedford’s 10, with one draw during the last eight seasons of competition.
Nottingham won on Bristol soil in the British & Irish Cup last season; however the West Country side look a much tougher proposition 12 months on and they go into the weekend buoyed by a last- gasp win away to Bedford.
Elsewhere, London Scottish play host to struggling Leeds Carnegie, and there two games in South Yorkshire with both Doncaster and Rotherham at home to Plymouth and Esher respectively.
Bristol Head Coach Liam Middleton names a virtually unchanged side from the 17-15 victory at Goldington Road, as Bristol Rugby welcome Nottingham to the Memorial Stadium tonight.
The Head Coach makes just one change to the starting line-up, with Louis Silver earning his first competitive start for the Club at scrum-half.
Ben Mosses and Rhys Lawrence retain their places after impressive displays last weekend, while Ross Johnston passes a fitness test to be named among the replacements
Jack Tovey and George Watkins, who top the Club’s scoring charts with four tries apiece, are included in a youthful backline. Junior Fatialofa (hamstring and Mark Davies (back miss out after failing to recover from injuries that kept them out of the win over Bedford
Middleton opts for a five forwards and two backs split on the replacements bench. Darren Crompton will make his 200th league appearance if he features against the Green and Whites.
Nottingham travel to the Memorial Stadium hoping for a good result following the disappointment of the 30-30 draw against Rotherham Titans last week
Bristol have a 100 per cent record at home this season and Nottingham Rugby’s Director Glenn Delaney believes it will be no easy feat:
“Bristol have started very well and are one of the early form teams. They are a much more cohesive unit than last season and will be one of the top sides come the end of the league.
“For us, maintaining the ball for long periods is critical against teams like Bristol. You have to be confident enough to not kick away possession and relieve the pressure with ball in hand.
“We have steadily built our game after much work in the off season. We have started well but need to limit the errors we are making in order to finish games off that we have done enough to win
“Over the next few weeks we will get injured players back along with our World Cup guys so I feel we are moving forward.”
Sean Marsden; George Watkins, Jack Tovey, Ben Mosses, Matt Williams
Tristan Roberts, Louis Silver; Mark Irish, Rhys Lawrence, Jason Hobson
Mariano Sambucetti, Roy Winters, Josh Ovens, James Merriman, Iain Grieve (c.
Ross Johnston, Darren Crompton, Wayne Thompson, Dan Montagu
Marco Mama, Tom Slater, Jon Goodridge.
1 Ryan Bower 2 Joe Duffey 3 Ben Prescott 4 Craig Hammond (c 5 Nic Rouse
6 Phil Eggleshaw 7 Jonny Baird 8 Alex Shaw 9 Nathan Jones 10 Kieran Hallett
11 Mike Penn 12 Juan Socino 13 Ayoola Erinle 14 Joe Cobden 15 David Jackson
16 Jimmy Stevens 17 Matt Sheilds 18 Lee Morley 19 Tom Calladine
20 Finlay Barnham 21 Alex Lewington 22 Jack Cobden
Brett Davey is looking ahead with confidence to this home clash with Plymouth Albion as the Knights attempt to make it four wins in succession.
Doncaster have now won three consecutive league matches, two of them at Castle Park and are hoping to maintain their unbeaten run at their ‘fortress’ this Saturday.
The added incentive of Sky Sports programme, ‘The Rugby Club’ filming highlights will push the players to step up their game as the Knights search to hang on to their top four position.
Davey acknowledged the role played by the team’s fans in helping to reverse a half-time deficit against London Scottish in their last home match:
“We owe the supporters another big performance, they got us out of trouble against Scottish and we played well when the crowd got involved, they created an atmosphere.”
Plymouth may lie ninth in the league table, but as Davey is only too well aware they pose a major threat and will definitely not be taking anything for granted so early in the season.
“They’re a decent side who have recruited smartly; they’ve got a good pack of forwards and some experienced backs too. They’ll be a tough nut to crack, and we need to do the simple things well and play our own game.”
The DOR is hoping for another big performance from last week’s ever-improving Man of the Match, David McIlwaine, and hopes Tom Luke and Mike Whitehead will be able to step up and fill the void left in the centre by the missing Oli Goss.
Plymouth Albion will be without their influential captain Sean-Michael Stephen for a number of weeks after the Canadian international broke his hand in the opening five minutes of last weekend's West Country derby against the Cornish Pirates.
Stephen has undergone an operation this week but the club are still waiting to find out how long he will be out.
Chairman of rugby Graham Dawe said: "It is a big blow for the club. He is one of our most experienced players and our captain. You will always miss a player of his statue."
Albion will also have to wait another week for fellow international forwards Aaron Carpenter and Tyler Hotson to return to the club after competing in the World Cup.
In Stephen's absence, scrum-half Ruairi Cushion will captain Plymouth Albion at Castle Park on Saturday . As well as Stephen, Carpenter and Hotson, Albion are also still without former Doncaster back Paul Bailey and forwards Herbie Stupple and Jon Vickers due to injury.
Albion stick with the team that played the majority of their narrow 20-16 to leaders the Cornish Pirates.
Albion had led for 47 minutes of that match, but saw victory snatched from them seven minutes time.
Sam Hocking, who came on to replace Stephen in the opening few minutes of that match, will wear the number six shirt at Castle Park.
Eighteen-year-old Plymouth-born fly-half Henry Slade keeps his place in the side after making a try-scoring debut against the Pirates.
England Under-18 star Slade, who grew up watching Albion every week, is one of five teenagers in Plymouth's 22-man squad.
Fellow 18-year-old Dan Lee is added to the bench, where he will join his older brother Mark, following Stephen's injury.
Saturday's match will see Bevon Armitage return to Doncaster, a club where he spent two years between 2008-10.
The experienced centre has scored two tries in his opening five league matches for Albion.
15 David McIlwaine 14 Dougie Flockhart 13 Tom Luke 12 PJ Gidlow 11 Michael Keating
10 Mike Whitehead 9 Chris Hallam ©
1 Tom Davies 2 Steve Boden 3 Royce Burke-Flynn 4 Matt Challinor 5 Dom Parsons
6 Andy Boyde 7 Zack Farivarz 8 Chris Planchant
16 Stuart Corsar 17 Alex Brown 18 Glen Kenworthy 19 Latu Makaafi
20 Michael Noone 21 Lee Audis 22 Ben Toft
15 James Love, 14 Mick McGrath, 13 Bevon Armitage, 12 Keni Fisilau, 11 Tyson Lewis,
10 Henry Slade, 9 Ruairi Cushion (capt), 1 David Morton, 2 Gareth Evans, 3 Rob Dugard
4 Dan Collier, 5 Addison Lockley, 6 Sam Hocking, 7 Wayne Sprangle, 8 James Tyas.
16 Dale Farnham, 17 Jack Nowell, 18 Mark Lee, 19 Ryan Hopkins
20 Davy McGregor, 21 Dan Lee, 22 James Harris.
London Scottish will aim to build on the momentum created by the 37 – 21 victory over Moseley last weekend, when they come up against last season’s relegated Premiership side Leeds Carnegie.
This will be the Yorkshire side’s first ever visit to the Athletic Ground, and Scottish will be hoping to capitalise on Carnegie’s injury woes and capture another big scalp.
Following his excellent stand-in performance at centre, Oli Brown retains his place in the number 12 shirt. He joined in the middle by Scottish internationalist Ben MacDougall, returning following a hamstring strain.
The pack remains the same as the one that faced up to Moseley, but there is space on the bench for flanker Ben Lonergan for the first time this season, as well as a return for experienced fly-half James Brown.
Diccon Edwards has named his team for the Championship clash against London Scottish this Saturday.
Michael Stephenson will return to the starting line up, having been out of action for Leeds Carnegie through injury since his Man of the Match winning performance against Bristol.
Mike MacDonald, who has missed the start of the season due to international duty at the World Cup, also returns to the replacement bench.
Other changes to the team include Joe Ford returning at fly half, with Joe Barker moving back to centre, and Tom Denton also coming into the starting line up, with Sean Hohneck missing out after picking up an injury in training.
15. Tommy Bell 14. Michael Stephenson 13. Lee Blackett 12. Joe Barker 11. Ollie Richards
10. Joe Ford 9. Robbie Shaw
1. Gareth Denman 2. Andy Titterrell 3. Phil Swainston 4. Tom Denton 5. Richard Beck
6. Jacob Rowan 7. Chris Walker 8. Ryan Burrows
16. Scott Freer 17. Mike MacDonald 18. David Young 19. Dan Hemingway
20. Dominic Barrow 21. Dan White 22. Pete Lucock
Moseley Coach Kevin Maggs has made five changes, two enforced, for the visit of London Welsh on Saturday.
Injury to the in-form Michael Ellery allows last season’s stand-out performer, Chevvy Pennycook, to make his first start after recuperating from a summer shoulder operation.
Lock Dan Sanderson begins a three-week ban, having been cited for a dangerous tackle against Esher, so the experienced Richard Stott steps up.
The other change in the pack sees loan-player Tom Warren come into the front-row as starting loose-head prop
In the backs there are two changes. Ollie Thomas gives way to Jack Adams on the left wing, and at scrum-half an opportunity is given for the precocious talents of Ryan Glynn to be displayed. With Ryan de la Harpe just back from World Cup duty, this position is soon sure to be hotly contested.
Maggs was forthright in his condemnation of his side’ performance against London Scottish last sunday.
“A lot of players let themselves and their Club down last week”, he said.
“The players know that we need to produce a reaction tomorrow, and play with the accuracy and intensity which is vital in this League. London Welsh are a top side who are performing consistently well, so what better opportunity could we get to test ourselves”.
London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones hands a first Championship start of the new season to fly half Alex Davies for Saturday’s visit to Moseley.
Davies joined the Exiles in the summer from Plymouth Albion but has had to bide his time with ex-Scotland international Gordon Ross starting all five of the Exiles’ previous Championship fixtures in the number ten jersey.
Davies came off the bench in four of those games, including the win over his former club at Old Deer Park, and started Welsh’s British & Irish Cup win over London Scottish, kicking 13 points in a 44-9 win.
Davies’ selection at fly half for the trip to Billesley Common, with Ross dropping to the bench, is one of five changes by Jones to the starting line up which defeated Esher 37-3 at Molesey Road last time out.
The remaining four changes all come in the forwards, with club captain Jonathan Mills returning at blindside flanker in place of Ben Russell. Michael Hills takes over the number seven jersey from Mike Denbee, while there’s a double change in the second row as Mike Powell and Matt Corker come in for Adam Brown and Martin Purdy.
Welsh will no doubt gladly take a repeat of their last visit to Billesley Common when Josh Drauniniu – now at Worcester Warriors – ran in four tries in a 68-22 victory.
Billesley Common has been a happy hunting ground for the Exiles in recent years, with Welsh winning on each of their five previous visits.
1. Tom Warren; 2.Adam Caves; 3. Anthony O’donnell; 4. Richard Stott; 5. Paul Spivey
6.Neil Mason; 7. Michael Maltman; 8.Chevvy Pennycook; 9. Ryan Glynn; 10. Bradley Davie
11. Jack Adams; 12.Andy Reay; 13. Greg King; 14. William Robinson; 15. Anthony Carter
16. Craig Voisey; 17.Marshall Gadd; 18. Colin Quigley; 19.Steve Smith
20. Charley Thomas; 21. Sam Brown; 22. Oliver Thomas
15. Edd Thrower, 14. Will Hurrell, 13. Hudson Tonga’uiha*, 12. Seb Jewell, 11. Joe Ajuwa,
10. Alex Davies, 9. Rob Lewis, 1. Guilermo Roan, 2. Dan George, 3. Greg Bateman
4. Mike Powell, 5. Matt Corker, 6. Jon Mills ©, 7. Michael Hills, 8. Ed Jackson.
16. Vili Ma’asi*, 17. Billy Moss, 18. Gary Johnson, 19. Ben Russell,
20. Ben Stevenson, 21. Gordon Ross*, 22. Paul Mackey
Rotherham Titans have made five changes to the starting 15 that earned a creditable draw away to Nottingham last time out.
There are two changes in the back line, with the half back combination of Cliffie Hodgson and Jimmy Williams coming in for Garry Law and Matt Rhodes. The three changes in the pack sees Ben Hooper replace the injured Rob O’Donnell at tight head prop. Whilst the second row combination of Sam Dickinson and Adrian Griffiths replace the injured Neale Patrick and Barney Maddison.
Saturday’s opponents Esher are coached by ex Rotherham favourite Mike Schmid and he recognises what a difficult challenge his team face, Mike said, “Rotherham are playing really well and had a terrific win over Bedford so we know it’s going to be a huge challenge.
“They have a monstrous pack and you have got to compete physically and if you don’t measure up you are going to get beaten. But we have got to play to our strengths. We have some elusive runners so we have got to keep the tempo high and play smart rugby.”
Rotherham have played Esher on six occasions since league rugby was introduced and hold a slender 4-2 head to head advantage over their Surrey based opponents.
Titans head coach Andre Bester expects a tough encounter despite Esher still searching for their first win, Bester said, “I’m not reading anything into Esher’s results so far, I’ve said it before, and on any given day any team can beat any team in this league this year.
“We are rotating our team again this week and it’s no reflection on whoever our opposition is. The important thing for us is to keep the players fresh and motivation levels very high. We have a close squad and they are all very competitive and there’s not a lot to choose between the players.”
Esher's Clive Stuart-Smith is hoping to put his injury nightmare behind him by making his Esher comeback at Rotherham on Saturday.
The former England Saxons scrum-half has played just half a dozen games since signing for the Surrey club last year.
He suffered a cruciate injury against Birmingham last October which ruled him out for the rest of the Championship campaign.
Then the jinxed No 9 broke a bone in his right hand in the pre-season clash at Saracens in August to leave Esher seriously short on scrum-half options with Jamie Mackenzie on World Cup duty with Canada.
But Stuart-Smith returned to full contact training this week and could feature in the squad for the tough trip to Rotherham, the club where Esher chief Mike Schmid starred as player and coach.
Schmid said: “Clive hasn’t had much luck with injuries since he got here but we’ll see where he is after training this week and go from there
“We want our senior players back but at the same time we don’t want to rush them so they have a setback which could keep them out for a longer period.”
Former Bath and Harlequins centre Tom Cheeseman could also be in line for his Esher debut after suffering a knee injury in the pre-season game at Twickenham Stoop.
That is welcome news for Schmid after discovering that centre Arran Cruickshanks could be out for two months with a broken bone in his foot.
Amazingly, Cruickshanks played the whole of the 80 minutes in last Friday’s 37-3 home defeat by London Welsh despite suffering the injury the previous week at Moseley.
Schmid explained: “He went for an X-ray but that proved inconclusive. He was desperate to play against London Welsh and did well.
“But he was in a lot of pain on the Saturday morning and then got a phone call from the hospital to say there he had a broken bone after all.”
The injury to Cruickshanks is the latest blow to Esher, who are bottom of the Championship without a point after five straight defeats.
Esher had 24 players out in the defeat by London Welsh through a combination of injuries and World Cup calls while several dual-registered Quins players were also unavailable.
Last week scrum-half Chris Cook suffered a hamstring injury in training at Bath while wing Sam Edgerley damaged a knee in England Sevens training.
Schmid admitted: “It’s an unbelievable situation. You always get injuries but I’ve never had so many players out to long-term injuries before.”
On the positive side, prop Perry Parker should be available to face Rotherham while Schmid also hopes to have the services of Quins pair Rob Buchanan and Tom Cassens, who both came off the bench in the Premiership victory over Sale on Saturday.
Schmid expects another tough game at his old club Rotherham but insist he is happy with the commitment of his injury-ravaged squad
He added: “Rotherham are playing really well and had a terrific win over Bedford so we know it’s going to be a huge challenge
“They have a monstrous pack so you have got to compete physically and if you don’t measure up you are going to get beaten
“But we have got to play to our strengths. We have some elusive runners so we have got to keep the tempo high and play smart rugby
“I cannot fault our attitude but we are making crucial mistakes at crucial times and some of our decision-making is poor. But that is mainly due to the fact we have a lot of players who are not experienced at this level.
“We have a lot of young players who have been thrust into action all at once and we need a few experienced guys back to help them out. But again, the attitude has been great and there is a collective will to be a success.”
15 Stephen Hamilton, 14 Tom Foden, 13 Byron Godfrey, 12 Palepoi Nonu, 11 Shane Monahan
10 Cliffie Hodgson, 9 Jimmy Williams, 1 Ben Harris, 2 Ted Stagg, 3 Ben Hooper
4 Sam Dickinson, 5 Adrian Griffiths, 6 Robin Copeland, 7 Sean Dougall (Capt.), 8 Semisi Taulava
Dan Baines, Jamie Kilbane, Shane Cahill, Barney Maddison, Carl Kirwan
Elliott Brierley, Garry Law, Matt Rhodes, Rikki Stout.
15 Ollie Lindsay-Hague, 14 Charlie Ingall, 13 Tom Loizides, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Charlie Walker
10 Rob Kirby, 9 Clive Stuart-Smith, 1 Ollie Mines, 2 Stuart Mackie, 3 Ricky Nebbett
4 Perry Parker, 5 Ian Kench, 6 Mike MacFarlane, 7 Sam Stitcher, 8 Chris Goodman
16 James Gethings, 17 Rob Buchanan, 18 Mike Blakeburn, 19 Peter Synott
20 Andy Wright, 21 Richard Mill, 22 Andy Garner
Cornish Pirates high performance manager Chris Stirling feels his Championship-leading side still have plenty to improve upon when they face Bedford Blues at Mennaye Field on Sunday.
The table-topping Pirates have cemented their status as title contenders in recent weeks after putting 50 points on both Leeds Carnegie and Bristol.
However, Stirling expects further progress when the Blues visit West Cornwall this weekend.
Full Story www.thisiscornwall.co.uk
Bedford Blues head off to Cornwall following two successive defeats
The Blues know that they will have their work cut out for them as they face an unbeaten Pirates side which has already racked up home wins over Doncaster, Bristol and Leeds.
Bedford’s cause hasn’t been helped by a succession of injuries with Dave Vincent and Jon Fisher both missing with ankle knocks and Darryl Veenendaal having a knee problem. Bedford have linked up with Saracens to welcome back scrum half Luke Baldwin and a shortage of props sees former Moseley and Nottingham man Ben Buxton join from Rugby Lions on loan.
Blues director of rugby Mike Rayer said: “Going down to Cornwall is always a huge challenge, but it is one that we enjoy and look forward to. The Pirates have built an impressive team in recent years which resulted with them reaching the Championship final last season and only just missing out.
“This year they have picked up where they left off and with the exception of a draw at Moseley, they have beaten everything that has been put in front of them.
“We know that it’s going to be a huge game and the lads have worked hard during the week in preparation for this encounter.
Yes, we are missing a couple of players, but we have plenty of depth and we are welcoming back the likes of Mike Howard and Don Barrell who will be champing at the bit to get involved. All the hallmarks are there for a great game.”
R. Cook, W. Davies, G. Pointer, T. Cooper, D. Doherty
C. Thomas, G. Cattle (capt), B. Cowan, C. Walker-Blair, C. Morgan
I. Nimmo, M. Smith, R. Brits, D. Ward, C. Rimmer.
Replacements: R. Storer, R. Elloway, L. McGlone, D. Ewers, T. Kessell, S. Hill, R. McAtee.
15. Brendan Burke 14. Handre Schmidt 13. Duncan Taylor 12. Tom Bedford 11. Josh Bassett
10. Jamie Lennard 9. Stefan Liebenberg
1. Nico Steenkamp 2. Chris Locke 3. Dan Seal 4. Sam Pailor 5. Sean Tomes
6. Alex Rae 7. Sacha Harding 8. Paul Tupai
16. Neil Cochrane, 17. Sam Walsh, 18. Mike Howard, 19. Don Barrell
20. Luke Baldwin, 21. Jake Sharp, 22. Mark Kohler