RFU Championship News. Previews of all the Round 7 games. All the teams plus news and comment
The Cornish Pirates pay a visit to Nottingham at Meadow Lane tonight where the Green and Whites will be eager to round off the week with a win following a 22-17 victory against Rotherham Titans on Wednesday in the British and Irish Cup.
Nottingham and Cornish Pirates have had some exciting matches in the past few years and Friday is sure to prove to be more of the same with the Pirates having only suffered one Championship defeat this season.
Nottingham’s Director of Rugby, Glenn Delaney said: “It’s a great opportunity for the team to play a good side in front of a home crowd. We’ll be coming to the end of a tough week but we’ve all been preparing for this and working hard.
“We’ll be looking to improve on last week’s League performance against Bristol and get another win under our belts.”
Nottingham also welcome back James Arlidge and Sione Kalamafoni from World Cup duty tonight after they represented Japan and Tonga respectively in the competition.
Their return to the starting line up tonight will give the Green and Whites a lift as they look to get back to winning ways.
Glenn Delaney is very pleased to have them back and said: "These two players have represented themselves, the club and their countries with distinction and we are very proud of them. I am looking forward to them playing at Meadow Lane again and I am sure the supporters will show their appreciation!"
Having suffered their first RFU Championship defeat of the season at home to Bedford Blues on Sunday, the Cornish Pirates will be keen to bounce back to winning ways at Nottingham on Friday.
With Ceiron Thomas and Jonny Bentley both unavailable because of injury, Rob Cook moves up from full-back to fly-half, and Wes Davies moves from the wing to take the number 15 shirt.
Making a welcome return to fitness is Drew Locke, who will partner Grant Pointer in the centre
Speaking ahead of toninight's game, Cornish Pirates forwards coach Ian Davies said:
"We had abrutal review following our performance against Bedford, as we were all disappointed to lose, and especially so at home.
It's naturally been a busy week when our normal preparation has been affected and injuries have tested the depth of our squad, but we've identified things to work on ahead of the game. "
He added: "It'll be tough at Nottingham, as it always is, but we'll be going there looking to show an improvement on last week."
Michael Holford, Joe Duffey, Ben Prescott, Craig Hammond, Nic Rouse
Sione Kalamafoni, Phil Eggleshaw, Alex Shaw, Nathan Jones’ James Arlidge
David Jackson, Juan Socino, Ayoola Erinle, Jack Cobden, Kieran Hallett
Jimmy Stevens, Matt Shields, Matt Parr, Lee Morley
Jonny Baird, Finlay Barnham, Joe Cobden
W. Davies, R. McAtee, G. Pointer, D. Locke, D. Doherty
R. Cook, G. Cattle (capt), B. Cowan, P. Burgess, C. Morgan
I. Nimmo, L. McGlone, R. Brits, R. Elloway, P. Andrew.
R. Storer, D. Ward, C. Rimmer, M. Myerscough, K. Marriott, J. Doherty, S. Hill
The Blues will be donning a specially made pink kit for Ladies Day which is once again in support of Breast Cancer Care,, but Director of Rugby Mike Rayer and his team are fully focussed with events on the field as they look to continue the good form that has seen the Blues pick up away wins over the Cornish Pirates and London Welsh earlier this week.
Bedford are buoyed by the return of club captain James Pritchard who goes straight into the starting line-up following his World Cup exploits with Canada.
There is also a start for winger Josh Bassett who scored the all-important stoppage time try against London Welsh in the British & Irish Cup on Wednesday.
Former Knight Neil Cochrane also returns to action against his former club as does Jamie Lennard who was with Doncaster before joining London Irish.
Speaking about the game Rayer said: “Some people may look at this fixture and pay a lot of attention to things happening away from the field, but the lads are looking to build on last weekend’s success down at Penzance
“That said, Doncaster come to us in fantastic form having won their last four Championship games and picking up a decent victory over Leeds on Wednesday night in the Cup.
Both teams have had big games in the last few days and it is clear that Brett Davey has his players primed for both competitions.
“I think it is going to be an enthralling game come 3.45pm on Saturday and I hope that with the Sky cameras with us at Goldington Road we can once again show just how good Championship rugby is.”
Brett Davey’s Knights squad sees several regular starters return to the line-up after being rested for the mid-week victory over Leeds Carnegie in the British and Irish Cup.
Only two players remain in the starting line-up from the Leeds match; centre Oli Goss and flanker Latu Makaafi. Try-scorers in Wednesday’s Yorkshire derby, Andy Boyde and Michael Noone will hope to make an impact from the bench.
The Knights will be hoping the in-form David McIlwaine, with five tries to his name so far, will get on the score-sheet again as the side look to extend their winning run in all competitions to five matches.
Currently lying fourth in the Championship table, following successive league victories over Moseley, London Scottish, Leeds and Plymouth Albion; Doncaster will not be underestimating a consistently strong Bedford side, who comprehensively beat high-flying Cornish Pirates last weekend.
15. James Pritchard (c) 14. Handre Schmidt 13. Brendan Burke 12. Tom Bedford 11. Josh Bassett
10. Jamie Lennard 9. Stefan Liebenberg
1. Nico Steenkamp 2. Neil Cochrane 3. Dan Seal 4. Sam Pailor 5. Sean Tomes
6. Alex Rae 7. Sacha Harding 8. Paul Tupai
16. Chris Locke, 17. Sam Walsh, 18. Mike Howard 19. Don Barrell
20. Darryl Veenendaal, 21. Jake Sharp, 22. Ollie Dodge
15 David McIlwaine 14 Dougie Flockhart 13 Oli Goss 12 PJ Gidlow 11 Michael Keating
10 Tom Luke 9 Chris Hallam ©
1 Stuart Corsar 2 Steve Boden 3 Alex Brown 4 Matt Challinor 5 Dominic Parsons
6 Latu Makaafi 7 Zack Farivarz 8 Chris Planchant
16 Tom Davies 17 Jack Yeandle 18 Andy Boyde 19 Michael Noone
20 David Bradford 21 Lee Audis 22 Mike Whitehead
Esher’s Mike Schmid is delighted as fellow Canadians Phil and Jamie MacKenzie make a return to the Esher match day squad after their New Zealand World Cup experience for Saturday’s encounter with second placed Bristol.
They join Mark Atkinson who returns from injury and is one of a number of other changes from last week’s away trip to Rotherham.
Liam Middleton makes several changes to the backline as Bristol Rugby bid for their fourth successive RFU Championship victory against Esher at Molesey Road on Saturday.
With Tristan Roberts picking up a knock in training this week, new signing Matty James is set to make his first start for the Club.
Jon Goodridge is named on the wing in place of Matt Williams while Ben Mosses retains his place at centre after being released from LV Cup duty by Bath.
In the absence of Jason Hobson, Darren Crompton starts in the front row alongside Wayne Thompson and Rhys Lawrence.
Captain Iain Grieve is still recovering from an ear infection, so Marco Mama continues at no.8.
On the replacements bench, Middleton opts for a five forwards and two backs split. Mitch Eadie and Ben Mercer feature in the 22-man squad for the first time in the league this season.
15 Rob Kirby 14 Sam Edgerley 13 Phil Mackenzie 12 Tom Cheeseman 11 Tom Loizides
10 Mark Atkinson 9 Clive Stuart – Smith
1 Ollie Mines 2 Stuart Mackie 3 Robin Boot 4 Perry Parker 5 Mike Blakeburn
6 Mike Macfarlane 7 Sam Stitcher 8 Chris Goodman
16 James Gethings 17 Shawn Renwick 18 Kevin Corrigan 19 Peter Synnott
20 Andy Wright 21Richard Mill 22 Jamie Mackenzie 23 John Downey 24 Joe Brown
Sean Marsden; George Watkins, Jack Tovey, Ben Mosses, Jon Goodridge
Matty James, Louis Silver; Darren Crompton, Rhys Lawrence, Wayne Thompson
Mariano Sambucetti, Roy Winters, Josh Ovens, James Merriman (c), Marco Mama.
Ross Johnston, Mark Irish, Dan Montagu, Darren Barry
Mitch Eadie, Tom Slater, Ben Mercer.
London Welsh return to Championship action, at Old Deer Park, on Saturday when they welcome Rotherham Titans, following the club’s temporary mid-week relocation to Sunbury for its British & Irish Cup clash with Bedford Blues.
The Exiles’ 41-16 win at Moseley last Saturday sent Lyn Jones’ side back to the top of the Championship table, but with the Cornish Pirates in action at Nottingham on Friday evening, Welsh could well take to the field at Old Deer Park in second spot, should the Pirates take the points at Meadow Lane.
Mid-week saw Welsh slip to a last gasp defeat to the Blues, going down 33-30 to Josh Bassett’s try, and the Exiles will be looking to continue their impressive start to the Championship, which has seen Jones’ men rack up five wins from their opening six games.
It’s all change in Welsh ranks for Saturday’s meeting with Rotherham, with Jones making 12 changes from the side that lost to Bedford, with prop Shawn Pittman, centre Paul Mackey and wing Ashley Smith the only payers to retain their starting places.
It was honours even between the two sides last season, with the Exiles running in six tries in a 39-10 win at Old Deer Park, only for the Titans to extract revenge at Clifton Lane, winning 29-13.
Indeed, Old Deer Park hasn’t been the happiest of happy hunting grounds for the Titans in recent years and one has to go back to March 2008 for the last time they tasted victory there, when they won 26-25. London Welsh captain Jon Mills is the only survivor from that defeat in the home side.
Titans make three changes as they prepare for what is expected to be a tough battle in the capital on Saturday.
The in form Garry Law returns at fly half for Cliffie Hodgson and in the pack Shane Cahill comes in at loose head prop for Ben Harris and returning from injury Neale Patrick replaces club captain Sam Dickinson at lock.
London Welsh are currently riding high at the top of the Championship and are the league’s highest point’s scorers. Their only defeat of the season was a narrow 22-18 reversal away to Bedford in mid September.
Welsh number 8 Ed Jackson will pose a threat, he tops the leading try scorers for the Championship with his tally of six. Ex Scottish International fly half Gordon Ross will equally cause Rotherham concern, as his undoubted quality and game management will spell danger if he is allowed to dictate play.
Titans Head Coach Andre Bester is fully aware of the Exiles menace, he warned,
“If we get it wrong we will get blown away, it’s going to be a tough game, especially on their own patch.
Their speed in defence is very quick, they’ve got a good first phase, have experience all over the place and they play with tempo.
It’s always a tough place to go to. If we don’t turn up we’re going to get 40 or 50 points against us.
We have to be switched on but I believe in this squad and I believe in the players. It will be a good measuring stick for us.”
The overall league head to head sees Rotherham hold a 13-9 advantage; however Welsh have won six of the last eight contests between the two sides. Rotherham will need to be at their very best if they are to return home victorious.
15. Edd Thrower, 14. Will Hurrell, 13. Paul Mackey, Seb Jewell, 11. Ashley Smith
10. Gordon Ross 9. Ben Stevenson
1. Shawn Pittman, 2. Dan George, 3. Greg Bateman, 4. Adam Brown, 5. Matt Corker
6. Jon Mills ©, 7. Michael Hills, 8. Ed Jackson.
16. Vili Ma’asi 17. Billy Moss, 18. Martin Purdy, 19. Lee Beach
20. Rob Lewis, 21. Alex Davies, 22. Hudson Tonga’uiha.
Rotherham Titans :
15 Steve Hamilton, 14 Tom Foden, 13 Byron Godfrey, 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Shane Monahan
10 Garry Law, 9 Jimmy Williams
1 Shane Cahill, 2 Ted Stagg, 3 Ben Hooper, 4 Neale Patrick, 5 Adrian Griffiths
6 Robin Copeland, 7 Sean Dougall (Capt.), 8 Semisi Taulava.
Replacements From :
Dan Baines, Rob O’Donnell, Jamie Kilbane, Sam Dickinson, Barney Maddison
Ed Tellwright, Cliffie Hodgson, Matt Rhodes, Ben Harris.
Plymouth Albion are able to welcome back three experienced players for tomorrow's match against London Scottish at Brickfields
Canadian forwards Aaron Carpenter and Tyler Hotson have arrived back from the World Cup, while utility back Paul Bailey has recovered from an ankle injury that has kept him out for two league games.
The return of Carpenter and Hotson is a big boost for Albion, who have been struggling with a number of forward injuries.
Number eight Carpenter was one of the stars of Canada's team in New Zealand, playing every single minute of their World Cup campaign.
"Aaron and Tyler arrived back in the country on Wednesday and after a couple of training sessions they are raring to go," said chairman of rugby Graham Dawe.
Albion, who made 14 changes to their team for their cup match in midweek, are looking to return to winning ways after three narrow league defeats.
Their home form has been good this season. Their only league defeat at Brickfields was when the Cornish Pirates sneaked a late 20-16 win a fortnight ago.
London Scottish, who like Albion have won two matches this season, will be making their first visit to Brickfields. The last time the teams met in a league game in Plymouth was in April 1992 when Albion were still playing at Beacon Park.
Ruairi Cushion and James Love have recovered from knocks they picked up at Doncaster last week, but youngsters Addison Lockley and Dan and Mark Lee are ruled out with injuries they have picked up over the past week.
Lockley and Dan Lee will be disappointed not to get the chance to possibly face their former Ivybridge Community College team-mate Dan Mugford, who is Scottish's top points scorer this season.
Jack Nowell has returned to Exeter and so Steve Johns returns to the bench, alongside Charlie Grace, who will be making his first appearance in a league matchday squad.
London Scottish will also be looking to get back to winning ways on Saturday.
With Scottish coming off the back of another narrow defeat to Leeds Carnegie at The Athletic Ground last weekend, coach Simon Amor will be looking for his charges to go one step further against a side also looking to make their way up the table.
15 James Love, 14 Mick McGrath, 13 Paul Bailey, 12 Keni Fisilau, 11 Tyson Lewis
10 Henry Slade, 9 Ruairi Cushion
1 David Morton, 2 Gareth Evans, 3 Rob Dugard, 4 Dan Collier, 5 Tyler Hotson
6 Sam Hocking, 7 Wayne Sprangle, 8 Aaron Carpenter.
Dale Farnham, Steve Johns, Bevon Armitage, Ryan Hopkins
Davy McGregor, James Tyas, Charlie Grace.
15. Grove 14. Hihetah 13. O. Brown 12. Trueman (c) 11. Holgate
10. Mugford 9. Heeks 8. Bright 7. Kellard 6. Lipp
5. J. Brown 4. Pape 3. Liffchak 2. Standfield 1. Clarke
16. Kwasnicki 17. MacKenzie 18. Thomas 19. Andrews
20. Lonergan 21. Stevenson 22. Adamson
Diccon Edwards welcomes back USA international Mike MacDonald to the Leeds Carnegie side to face Moseley in the Championship at Headingley this Sunday.
The record breaking prop made a telling contribution off the bench last week in the win at London Scottish after returning from the World Cup in New Zealand and will now start against Moseley.
Young hooker Scott Freer comes in for his first start of the season in place of Andy Titterrell who is out with a foot injury.
Leeds are given a boost with the news that full back Stevie McColl returns from injury on the bench along with Scott Barrow.
Moseley Coaches Kevin Maggs and Craig West have selected an almost unchanged side for the visit to Leeds. The only change in the starting fifteen sees Jack Adams give way to Ollie Thomas, who made a case for his inclusion in the team with a good goal-kicking performance in mid-week in the win against Bristol in the British & Irish Cup. Newcomers to the bench include lock David Lyons and centre Callum McBurnie.
After last week’s defeat by London Welsh, Maggs and West are looking for an immediate response from the team. “We have conceded too many soft scores in the last two League games”, said Maggs. “On Sunday we will be looking for our defence to be a lot meaner. We are managing to create plenty of chances, but have not always kept possession as long as we would have liked, and last week early penalties did not allow us to build any momentum. We will be looking for a more disciplined performance at Headingley”.
15. Tommy Bell 14. Michael Stephenson 13. Lee Blackett 12. Joe Barker 11. Ollie Richards
10. Joe Ford 9. Robbie Shaw
1. Mike MacDonald 2. Scott Freer 3. Phil Swainston 4. Dominic Barrow 5. Richard Beck
6. Jacob Rowan 7. Chris Walker 8. Ryan Burrows
16. Phil Nilsen 17. Gareth Denman 18. Dan Hemingway 19. Alex Rieder
20. Craig Hampson 21. Scott Barrow 22. Stevie Mccoll
1. Tom Warren; 2.Adam Caves; 3. Anthony O’donnell; 4. Paul Spivey; 5.Richard Stott
6.Neil Mason; 7. Michael Maltman; 8.Chevvy Pennycook; 9. Ryan Glynn; 10 Bradley Davies
11. William Robinson; 12.Andy Reay; 13. Greg King; 14. Oliver Thomas; 15. Anthony Carter
16. Craig Voisey; 17. Colin Quigley; 18. David Lyons; 19. Charley Thomas; 20.Callum Mcburnie; 21. Sam Brown; 22. Jack Adams