Pre-season match previews, plus news and comment from around the clubs and what the papers say.
Tonight - Friday 17th
Bedford Blues v Cardiff RFC 7:45pm
Leeds v Wasps 7:30pm
Munster v Bristol 7 pm
Newcastle Falcons v Edinburgh 8pm
Exeter Chiefs v Cornish Pirates 3pm
Harlequins v London Scottish 12:15pm
Doncaster Knights v Cambridge 2:30pm
Moseley v Aberavon 3pm
Nottingham vs Loughborough Cancelled
Plymouth Albion v Redruth 3pm
Plymouth Albion v Exmouth 5pm
Tuesday August 21st
Worcester Warriors vs Rotherham Titans
Bedford welcome Welsh Premiership side Cardiff RFC to Goldington Road tonight
Following a hotly contested game against Saracens last Friday which resulted in a 12-24 defeat, the Blues are looking to get an important win under their belts with just a fortnight to go until the new season kicks off.
Director of rugby Mike Rayer makes a host of changes to the Starting XV with trialists Heath Stevens and Joe Vandermolen getting the nod at inside centre and number eight respectively while Alex Rae captains the team from the back row.
15. Ben Ransom, 14. James Stephenson, 13. Brendan Burke, 12. Heath Stevens
11. Josh Bassett, 10. Ian Vass, 9. Luke Baldwin
1. Dan Seal, 2. Scott Spurling, 3. Ben Cooper, 4. Mike Howard
5. Ben Gulliver, 6. Alex Rae, 7. Sacha Harding, 8. Joe Vandermolen
Neil Cochrane, Darren Fearn, Phil Boulton, Gregor Gillanders, Darren Fox
Don Barrell, Darryl Veenendaal, Jake Sharp, Henry Staff, Mark Kohler, James Pritchard.
Mike Rayer is hoping for a bit more guile from his side against the Welsh outfit following last week’s 24-12 defeat to Premiership Saracens.
Several players are ruled out with minor knocks, including new signings Tom Armes and Mark Atkinson, but a number of dual-registered Saracens players have also been given starting berths and Rayer is relishing the clash in what it Bedford’s last proper pre-season friendly ahead of the new Championship season.
He said: “I’m hoping they won’t be as strong defensively. They will be what they will be. I don’t really know they will be like.
Full Story www.bedfordtoday.co.uk
Munster v Bristol
Friday August 17th
In the third game of their pre-season campaign Bristol Rugby face Munster at Musgrave Park
Head Coach Liam Middleton takes a 25-man squad to Cork, but without the likes of Jason Hobson, Ruki Tipuna and Jack Tovey who are unavailable due to h injury,
Middleton has named a strong bench, with James Merriman, Tristan Roberts and David McIlwaine included among the replacements.
Jon Goodridge; Ryan Edwards, Bryan Rennie, Luke Eves, George Watkins; Adrian Jarvis, James Grindal; Kyle Traynor, Ross Johnston, Wayne Thompson, Mariano Sambucetti, Glen Townson, Iain Grieve (c), Redford Pennycook, Mitch Eadie.
Replacements: Rhys Lawrence, Will Davis, Bruce Douglas, Roy Winters, Marco Mama, James Merriman, Tom Slater, Tristan Roberts, Jack Gadd, David McIlwaine.
Munster coach Rob Penney makes four changes to his starting XV for the second of the pre-season friendlies when Munster take on Bristol Rugby at Musgrave Park on Friday evening (7pm).
One of those changes sees a return from injury for Damien Varley who missed the trip to La Rochelle, while Casey Laulala Dave Foley and Paddy Butler are in from the start ahead ofDanny Barnes, Brian Hayes and James Coughlan, Hayes and Barnes areboth named on an extended bench.
D Hurley; D Howlett capt, C Laulala, J Downey, L O'Dea
I Keatley, D Williams; D Kilcoyne, D Varley, S Archer
B Holland, D Foley; T O'Donnell, S Dougall, P Butler.
W du Preez, M Horan, BJ Botha, S Henry, D Casey, B Hayes, P Donnellan
Dave O'Callaghan, B O'Mahony, P Stringer, S Deasy, D Barnes, J Murphy, S Scanlon.
Following the Cornish Pirates 36-7 win against Loughborough Students in their opening pre-season 'friendly', they know a much sterner test awaits away at Sandy Park against Exeter Chiefs on Saturday.
Former 'Pirate' Carl Rimmer could well feature for Rob Baxter's side, who were a little disappointed after their narrow 8-6 home defeat against Connacht last weekend, whilst in the Pirates selection Junior Fatialofa and Tom Bedford are named to line up against one of their former teams.
M. Evans, G. Pointer, A. Cheesman, J. Fatialofa, T. Bedford
K. Hallett, T. Kessell, B. Maidment, P. Burgess, K. Marriott (capt)
G. Johnson, D. Lyons, A. Paver, R. Elloway, P. Andrew.
R. Storer, D. Semmens, B. Prescott, D. Barry, G. Cattle, A. Penberthy, T. Riley.
15 Luke Arscott, 14 Mark Foster, 13 Sireli Naqelevuki, 12 Jason Shoemark
11 Josh Tatupi, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Will Chudley
1 Brett Sturgess’ 2 Simon Alcott, 3 Craig Mitchell, 4 Damian Welch
5 Aly Muldowney, 6 James Phillips, 7 Tom Johnson, 8 Kai Horstmann
16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Chris Budgen, 19 Will Carrick-Smith
20 Dave Ewers, 21 Ben White, 22 Justin Blanchet, 23 Junior Poluleuligaga
24 Myles Dorrian, 25 Nic Sestaret, 26 Jack Arnott, 27 Jack Nowell, 28 Sam Hill
Mark Stevens writing on the Chiefs website says that head coach Rob Baxter wants to see a step up in intensity from his team tomorrow.
"We're looking forward to Saturday because it's a game we definitely need," admitted Baxter. "There is no doubt we were a little rusty against Connacht last week, but there are reasons for that and we're not overly concerned. Coming into last week the guys had been on a 10-day break, whilst before that we had a three-day training camp with the Marines, so it was pretty much two weeks since they last chucked a ball around.
"This week I'm looking for a big improvement in terms of our accuracy and execution, as well as a big step up in intensity."
Standing in the way of the Chiefs will be a strong Pirates side that includes former Exeter players Alan Paver, Tom Bedford and Junior Fatialofa in their ranks.
"The Pirates will be coming here in what is a local derby and looking to perform well," warned Baxter. "They've recruited well over the summer and they look like they have a strong side.
"We are big believers in the quality of the Championship, not just because we have come from there ourselves, but also because we've done our recruitment from that level.l I know people have different opinions on the Championship play-offs, but the Pirates were the second best team in the Championship last season and they had two good game against London Welsh who are now in the Premiership..
Doncaster Knights v Cambridge
Saturday August 18th
Kick off 2:30pm
Most Doncaster Knights supporters will get their first look at Brett Davey’s 2012-13 Championship squad in action at Castle Park in Saturday’s pre-season friendly at home to Cambridge.
Knights lost 52-17 against a strong Newcastle team in the first of their three warm-up games at the weekend, rallying in the second half after trailing 38-3 at the break.
Neither Davey nor Kenworthy are reading too much into that result given that it was the much-changed squad’s first outing
“We feel that we’ve put a decent squad together, though we’ve gambled on a few players, based on how we want to play this season,” said Kenworthy. “But you never know how the team will do until you’ve seen them in action. We’ll know more in two or three weeks’ time.”
Full Story www.thestar.co.uk
In Other News From Doncaster,
Matt Challinor has been handed the Doncaster Knights captaincy for the 2012/13 season.
The 28-year-old lock has made 43 championship starts in just two seasons for the club, following his capture from fierce rivals Rotherham Titans after an earlier spell with Leeds.
The South Yorkshireman’s unyielding performances and exemplary on field conduct earned him great respect from his Knights’ teammates and established him as a fan favorite in his short career at Castle Park to date.
The 6’5 dynamo has previous experience of leading the Knights, last season he was given the vice-captain’s role and took charge of the side on four occasions.
DOR Brett Davey highly values the ever dependable second–rower and believes his leadership skills as well the respect he receives from fellow players make Challinor the obvious choice for the captaincy.
More than 4,500 people packed into Jersey's St Peter ground saw Jersey display great determination, discipline and fitness to stay close to the Tigers.
Tigers' Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill said, "There were a lot of mistakes from both sides, and it became a bit disjointed after the break, but it was our first hit-out and will provide a reference point for the remainder of pre-season,"
"I had no problem with the penalty try - if you are a man short, and you get pushed back like that, and it goes down, you deserve to be punished."
Leeds Carnegie Head Coach Diccon Edwards has shuffled his team from the side that lost at Newcastle Falcons last weekend for tonight’s friendly against Wasps at Headingley
In the pack only Calum Green, Richard Beck, Jacob Rowan and Ryan Burrows remain whilst there is only one change to the backline with James Doherty starting at scrum half in place of Craig Hampson.
Harry Hannan and Jamel Chisholm have both been drafted onto the bench from last week but otherwise it is a similar squad to last weeks.
1. Lee Imiolek, 2. Scott Freer, 3. Ben Hooper, 4. Calum Green, 5. Mike Myerscough
6. Richard Beck, 7. Jacob Rowan (c), 8. Ryan Burrows, 9. James Doherty, 10. Joe Ford
11. David Doherty, 12. Freddie Burdon, 13. Pete Lucock, 14. Curtis Wilson, 15. Stevie McColl
16. Harry Hannan, 17. Ben Harris, 18. Damien Tussac, 19. Dan Hemingway, 20. Dominic Barrow
21. Pearce Phillips, 22. Phil Nilsen, 23. Craig Hampson, 24. Matt Clark, 25. Jamel Chisholm
The Wasps squad has three former Leeds players within its ranks, with Tom Palmer and Marco Wentzel forming an ex-Leeds second row pairing and Tommy Bell named on the bench.
Dai Young has handed starting debuts to Andrea Masi, Palmer and Ashley Johnson after all three impressed in Treviso last weekend off the bench.
Also making a return to the starting line-up are a number of familiar faces including Christian Wade, Joe Simpson, Zak Taulafo, Marco Wentzel , Joe Launchbury and Jonathan Poff as well as Hugo Southwell who leads the team out.
After returning to the Club this week, James Haskell is named among the replacements.
15. Hugo Southwell (captain), 14. Tom Varndell , 13. Andrea Masi , 12. Lee Thomas
11. Christian Wade , 10. Stephen Jones, 9. Joe Simpson,
1. Tim Payne, 2. T Rhys Thomas, 3. Zak Taulafo, 4. Tom Palmer, 5. Marco Wentzel
6. Joe Launchbury, . Jonathan Poff, 8. Ashley Johnson
16. Tom Lindsay, 17. Simon McIntyre, 18. Lewis Thiede, 19. Richard Birkett
20. James Cannon, 21. Nic Berry, 22. Nick Robinson, 23. Chris Mayor, 24
James Haskell, 25. Matt Everard< 26. Billy Vunipola, 27. Tommy Bell, 28. Jack Wallace
In Other News
Leeds Carnegie have signed former Rotherham prop Ben Harris on a short term contract until 31st December to bolster their squad ahead of the new Championship season.
Harris, who stands at 6'4" tall and weighs 125kg, can play on either side of the scrum and is originally from Huddersfield. He has previously played under Leeds Carnegie forwards coach Dave Baldwin for the England Counties side and began training with the club last week.
Commenting on the signing, Director of Rugby Chris Gibson said, "Ben is only 23, which is young in terms of prop forwards but he has shown great potential during his time at Rotherham. Mo Mustafa currently has a shoulder injury that is likely to rule him out for the start of the season so it is good that we have been able to bring in some cover to our front row.
The short term contract was something that worked well for us last season with Sam Lockwood and Mo Mustafa and I am sure Ben will be out to impress when he gets his chance."
Meanwhile, Gibson has also confirmed that scrum half Brad Field has been released after signing for the club earlier this summer. "We have agreed to release Brad so he can return home to the South West and look for other options closer to home."
Following Kevin Maggs’ very active summer there will be a number of new Moseley players on show
With probably the most exciting backline Moseley has had in a number of seasons and a pack being forged by Scottish legend Dave Hilton it promises to be a season very different from the previous one.
Last week Moseley travelled to Bedwas and took many positives from an entertaining game which featured wholesale changes of personnel by both teams throughout.
While it would therefore be misleading to draw conclusions from the scoreline itself, to visit Wales and come away with six tries is never something to be underestimated.
That all the tries were scored by backs seemed to underline Kevin Maggs’ attacking philosophy.
Newcastle Falcons have named their squad ahead of Friday’s pres-season showdown with Edinburgh at Kingston Park Tonight.
Goal-kicking machine Jimmy Gopperth starts at full-back with summer signing Waisea Luveniyali handed the fly-half berth. Tane Tu’ipulotu and Alex Crockett form the centre partnership, while Luke Fielden and Ryan Shortland occupy both wings.
In the pack summer recruits Oliver Tomaszczyk, Scott MacLeod and Carlo del Fava all have a chance to impress the new-look coaching set-up.
Head coach Peter Russell and forwards coach John Wells will take charge of affairs this weekend as incoming director of rugby Dean Richards serves the last few days of his ban.
“It will be a huge step up for us on Friday,” said Wells, who worked with Richards during a successful stint with Leicester Tigers.
Wells added: “I have just been looking at the Edinburgh team now, and whilst they have still got one or two of their more prominent Scottish internationals unavailable, there are still a good sizeable chunk of guys who played in last season’s Heineken Cup semi-final – on their day they probably should have and could have beaten Ulster.
“They play a very exciting brand of rugby and on one day they can score 40-odd points, and on another day they can let in 40 points so we know that we are going to have our hands full.
“Last week we were challenged in different ways to what we are going to be this week, and it will be up to us to front up.”
The Scots travel to Tyneside with a whole host of debutants on show including All Black centre Ben Atiga, fleet-footed winger Mike Penn, England and Lions hooker Andy Titerrell and Georgian back-row Dimitri Basilaia.
Edinburgh head coach Michael Bradley told the Murrayfield outfit’s website: “Tomorrow’s match against the Falcons represents the first real opportunity for all of our players, not just the new arrivals, to champion their place in our match-day squad.
“Every time a player turns out for this club they will need to perform at their absolute best to retain their place as there is a player, or players, waiting to step straight in and make it their own.”
The Journal says that Newcastle have sprung a major surprise naming star fly-half Jimmy Gopperth at full-back whilst Fijian World Cup star Waisea Luveniyali starts at fly-half and Luke Fielden shunted from full-back on to the right wing.
John Wells explained the two-time Golden Boot winner’s selection at No 15 tonight was no mere gimmick. He said: “There is an element really of just trying things out to see how they work, and that is the whole point of pre-season along with the match-fitness aspect.
“For example, on a wet Friday night at Kingston Park we need to have a bit more of a kicking strategy, and it is good to have two kickers on the field during those times.
Full Story www.journallive.co.uk
15 Jimmy Gopperth, 14 Luke Fielden, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Waisea Luveniyali, 9 Chris Pilgrim, 1 Jonny Golding, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Scott MacLeod, 5 Carlo del Fava, 6 Taiasina Tu’ifua, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Ally Hogg
Reps: Matt Thompson, Grant Shiells, James Hall, James Hudson, Mark Wilson, Chris York, Rory Lawson, Suka Hufanga, James Fitzpatrick, Tom Catterick, Joel Hodgson
15 Greig Tonks, 14 Lee Jones, 13 John Houston, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Mike Penn, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Chris Leck, 1 Allan Jacobsen, 2 Andy Titerrell, Geoff Cross, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 5 Sean Cox (c), 6 Dimitri Basilaia, 7 Roddy Grant, 8 Stuart McInally
Reps: Robin Hislop, Willem Nel, Steven Turnbull, Netani Talei, Richie Rees, Gregor Hunter, Sep Visser, George Turner, Alex Allan, Robert McAlpine, Perry Parker, Hamish Watson, Alex Black, Jamie Farndale, Alun Walker
Other Falcons News
Scotland international Euan Murray has moved on loan to French Top 14 outfit Agen for three months.
The Glaswegian prop joined the Falcons from Northampton in December 2010 and made 21 appearances last term in the Falcons’ bid to avoid relegation.
Chief executive David Bell said: "It is a great opportunity for Euan to continue playing at the highest level and will keep him in the frame for Scotland whilst still being available for Newcastle Falcons from the middle of November."
Nottingham vs Loughborough Cancelled
Nottingham Rugby can confirm that promising young talent Mitchell Todd was killed in a road traffic accident on Wednesday 15 August.
Second row Mitchell, aged 21, was a product of the Nottingham Academy and impressed for the senior side during appearances in the British and Irish Cup last season.
He represented Scotland under 20's in last seasons' Six Nations and also featured in the Junior World Cup. He impressed during loan spells at both Leicester Lions and Birmingham Solihull and had just completed his degree in Sports Therapy at Coventry University. He signed a new contract with Nottingham in May of this year and was expected to make a big impact during the 2012-2013 season.
He was an exceptional talent and a highly valued member of the squad, and he will be missed by all of those that knew him. Our thoughts are with Mitchell's family and friends at this difficult time.
As a result of this news, Nottingham's scheduled match vs Loughborough Students, on Saturday 18 August, has now been cancelled.
The Herald says that Albion head coach Nat Saumi has warned players that tomorrow's pre-season matches against Redruth and Exmouth could be make-or-break for them.
He admits he will make decisions on the club's trialists after this weekend and he will also decide on who will be in his team for their Championship opener against Doncaster on September 1.
Albion have one more pre-season match after this weekend, but that is at Premiership club Worcester and Saumi wants to field the team who are likely to face Doncaster in that match.
"For all of them, this is their final chance," said Saumi. "Next week (at Worcester) it will probably be the starting team who will be playing in the first league game.”
Full Story www.thisisplymouth.co.uk
Albion side v Redruth:
Louis Messer, Rhodri McAtee, Lewis Warner, Paul Bailey, Sam Jones, Henry Slade
Paul Rowley, Jack Andrew, Jon Vickers, Lloyd Fairbrother, Harrison Tovey
Ien Ascroft-Leigh, Herbie Stupple, Sam Hocking, Aaron Carpenter.
Reps: Kyle Mason, Ben Rogers, Jamie Salter, David Morton, Paul Roberts
Albion side v Exmouth:
Joe Bartlett, Ed Maslaveckas, Keni Fisilau, Bevon Armitage, Charlie Attis, Tom Whelan
Ed Lewsey, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Cowan-Dickie, Ryan Hopkins, Mark Manton,
Brett Beukeboom, Toby Borrow, Sam Matavesi, TBC. Reps: Kyle Mason, Ben Rogers, Jamie Salter, David Morton, Paul Roberts
Worcester Warriors v Rotherham Titans
Tuesday August 21st
Kick Off 7.30pm
The Star reports that rotherham coach Andre Bester is preparing his squad to face Premiership side Worcester Warriors on Tuesday, his toughest challenge ahead of the start of Championship season
Bester may decide to rest several of the players who were in the team which beat National One club Macclesfield 17-7 on Wednesday.
Two of the Titans’ tries against the Cheshire side were scored by new signings, Charlie Mulchrone, touching down against his old club, and Rory Pitman who impressed throughout with his power. The other try came from Barney Maddison.
Full Story www.thestar.co.uk