Teams & Previews
Plus news and comment from around the clubs and what the papers say.
Saturday 23rd February
Newcastle Falcons v Cornish Pirates 19:00 - BBC Radio Cornwall
Re-Arranged Round 6 Fixtures
Friday 22nd February
Pool 1 Bristol v Cardiff 19:45 - BBC Radio Bristol
Saturday 23rd February
Pool 7 Rotherham Titans v Aberavon 14:30
Sunday 24 February
Pool 8 Nottingham v Llandovery 14:15
Pool 1 Bridgend v Ulster
Pool 4 Connacht v Newport
Pool 5 Pontypridd v Jersey NOW Friday 5th April Evening Kick Off
Re-Arranged Round 14 Fixture:
Newcastle Falcons v Cornish Pirates
Tonight’s RFU Championship match with Cornish Pirates at Kingston Park will go ahead as planned, unless there is substantial snowfall this afternoon.
However, there will be an inspection at 3pm with spectator safety being the paramount concern.
Everything is being done to ensure that the game is played and we ask our fans to take extra care on the road when travelling to the ground.
Newcastle Falcons have named an unchanged backline with Michael Tait retaining his place at outside centre for this Saturday’s clash with Cornish Pirates at Kingston Park
Injury has forced Falcons boss Dean Richards’ hand in the pack, however, with four changes being made as the Kingston Park club look to seal their safe passage through to the play-offs with victory this weekend.
After featuring for Scotland ‘A’ against England Saxons earlier this month, loose-head prop Grant Shiells replaces Jonny Golding, who is ruled out with a slight knock, while Rob Vickers misses out with a calf injury.
Matt Thompson pulls on the No.2 jersey for the first time since the Falcons’ 31-15 triumph over Plymouth Albion back in November.
James Hudson and Mark Wilson round off the changes as James Goode and Taiasina Tu’ifua both drop to the bench. Michael Mayhew is amongst the replacements after returning from his loan spell at London Irish.
With a later kick-off time of 7pm, Richards is looking forward to a ‘great’ atmosphere inside Kingston Park for the visit of the Cornishmen.
“Get the football out the way, all the club games, and after the club games fans can come down to the Falcons and watch the England game on the big screen, so it promises to be a great atmosphere,” said Richards.
And Richards, who remains undefeated this term in the Falcons hot-seat, insists the change in kick-off time will not affect his troops.
He said: “The players are used to the varying kick-off times now unlike years ago when it used to be a Saturday three o’clock affair.
“These days the players just get on with it and it doesn’t matter which day of the week the games are played.”
The Falcons are offering members of the Armed Forces and emergency services free entry to this weekend’s game, which Richards backs to the hilt.
“It’s a fantastic thing for us to do, and as I say in my programme notes if you’re talking about heroes then they are the guys who are the real heroes, and sporting heroes is a slightly different thing,” said the Falcons chief.
After a quick turnaround between the Leeds Carnegie and Moseley games, Dean Richards and his coaching staff have had a full week to prepare their charges for the Pirates clash.
“It’s nice to get back to a bit of normality in terms of having a seven day week in the build-up to a game,” said Richards.
“That said it is something that we won’t have the luxury of at the end of the season, especially with midweek play-off games,” he added.
15 Tom Catterick, 14 Andrew Higgins, 13 Michael Tait, 12 Jamie Helleur
11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Rory Lawson
1 Grant Shiells, 2 Matt Thompson, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Scott MacLeod
5 James Hudson, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Ally Hogg
16 Michael Mayhew, 17 James Hall, 18 James Goode, 19 Taiasina Tu’ifua
20 Warren Fury, 21 Joel Hodgson, 22 Alex Crockett
Following a number of injuries, the Pirates starting line-up shows several changes from the side that lost 20-17 at home to London Scottish last weekend
Wing Ashley Smith (left), who has made two appearances off the bench since signing on loan from London Welsh, makes his first start.
Aaron Penberthy, who has featured for Redruth in their last three games, slots in at fly-half to complete his comeback from injury.
Lock Gary Johnson is named to skipper the side.
Head coach Ian Davies, aware that a tough challenge awaits, said: “Playing the Falcons this season and especially away from home, provides a mighty challenge, but we'll just get up there and play and hopefully conjure up a performance to put the disappointment of last weekend behind us.”
W. Davies, B. Mercer, G. Pointer, T. Bedford, A. Smith
A. Penberthy, T. Kessell, J. Tyas, P. Burgess, A. Cheesman
D. Barry, G. Johnson (capt), P. Joyce, D. Semmens, R. Storer.
P. Andrew, R. Elloway, B. Prescott, D. Lyons, K. Marriott, O. Hambly, T. Riley.
Mark (R) Smith - The Journal
NEWCASTLE Falcons can secure their place in the Championship semi-finals with victory over Cornish Pirates tomorrow, but scrum-half Rory Lawson is greedy for more.
Lawson said: “I would expect them to come up here wanting to play, although hopefully the weather will be a bit better than when we went to Penzance in September.
“When the conditions allow them to play they do like to move it about a bit – we just had an absolute stinker of a day there with the driving rain and the wind. They will come up here looking to throw the ball around, they have had some varying results over the past few weeks and they will want to bounce back after their defeat against London Scottish last time out.
“The most important thing for us is just to focus on our own bit, and doing what we can ourselves. Obviously we respect the opposition and will prepare properly, but we believe if we put things in place and execute them on the day then we will win the game.”
Full Story www.journallive.co.uk
British & Irish Cup
Re-Arranged Round 6 Fixtures
Bristol Rugby round off their Pool One fixtures against Cardiff tonight, knowing that victory will secure a home quarter-final in the B&I Cup.
Head Coach Liam Middleton hands starts to Tristan Roberts and Ben Mosses in the backline, while Fautua Otto retains his place in the midfield.
In a much-changed pack, James Merriman and Marco Mama return to the back row, while Wayne Thompson will make his 150th first team appearance.
Middleton opts for a four forwards and three backs split on the replacements bench, with England U20 scrum half Callum Braley set for his first competitive outing of the season.
Jack Tovey; George Watkins, Fautua Otto, Ben Mosses, Ryan Edwards
Tristan Roberts, Ruki Tipuna (c); Bruce Douglas, Rhys Lawrence, Wayne Thompson
Ben Glynn, Glen Townson, Alafoti Faosiliva, James Merriman, Marco Mama.
Tom Channon, Mark Lilley, George Biagi, Redford Pennycook, Callum Braley, Adrian Jarvis, Jon Goodridge.
Cardiff welcome back Wales 7s scrum half Alex Walker for their visit to the Mem tonight.
Walker, who has also spent time with the Blues this season, is one of several changes to the team that lost 11-16 to Ebbw Vale at Arms Park in the SWALEC cup. Last week.
Cardiff will be captained by Aaron Fowler who is part of a changed front row. Campese Ma’afu coming in with Rhys James to form the front row. James Murphy moves back a row as Dan Partridge makes a return to the starting line-up.
In the back line Walker is partnered by James Thomas. On the wings Cardiff’s new speedsters Ifan Evans and Jack Phillips form a back three that includes top points scorer this season Joe Griffin.
15. Joe Griffin 14. Jack Phillips 13 Max Woodward 12. Will Thomas
11 Ifan Evans 10 James Thomas 9 Alex Walker
1. Campese Mafau 2. Aaron Fowler (Captain) 3 Rhys James 4 Dan Partridge
5. Mathew Screech 6. Nick White 7. James Murphy 8. Alwyn Lee
16. Lewis Smout 17. Josh Dunleavy 18. Dan Apsee 19. Rhys Luckwell
20. Garyn Lucas 21 Jamie Davies 22 Shaun Powell
Titans welcome back long-term absentees Neale Patrick and Laurence Pearce who start the game at lock and number 8 respectively.
Tom Carlisle who arrived at Clifton Lane this week on duel registered terms from Worcester Warriors starts at number 10.
Will Robinson and Lloyd Hayes have joined up with the Titans on a trial basis, as the club continues to look at potential recruits to the squad. Robinson, currently contracted at Hull RUFC is a winger who can cover the scrum half position, whilst Hayes who plies his trade at Chester is predominantly a centre.
Former Titan Rikki Stout has been re-registered with the club following his impressive work with the squad recently. Rikki gets the nod for Saturday at tight head prop.
Looking ahead to the match, Titans Head Coach Alex Codling explained, “In terms of our B&I Cup campaign I’ve been delighted; it’s been a really positive campaign. I think at the outset it’s always tough when you have the current champions in your group, but I think the way the boys played in Munster, where we were a couple of minutes away from getting the win, just highlights how successful the competition has been. Ultimately the slip-up at home against Munster is what’s cost us, but that’s the margins you have to face and we accept that.
“On the face of it, probably three or four weeks ago this game against Aberavon might have been looked at as a dead rubber with nothing to play for. But I think you can see from the team selection and on a personal level I’m massively excited by it, I think it’s a great opportunity for the club.
“It’s a rare opportunity where we can play a competitive match, knowing that the end result is not going to change our destiny in the competition, whilst at the same time it gives us the opportunity to look at players in a competitive environment, both in terms of the short term with players coming back from injury and also with potential players for next season and that excites me massively.
“Every match we play, we play with the intension of winning and that’s no different this week.
We know Aberavon aren’t going to travel all this way and then not put in a shift and we’ll need to be ready for the challenge. I see the players coming in for us this as a real positive and the players now have the opportunity to put their hands up and stake a claim for a spot against Newcastle next week.”
15 Ed Styles, 14 Will Robinson, 13 Joel Gill, 12 Lloyd Hayes
11 Pete Homan 10 Tom Carlisle, 9 Jimmy Williams
1 Jamie Kilbane, 2 Ted Stagg, 3 Rikki Stout, 4 Neale Patrick
5 Nile Dacres, 6 Latu Makaafi, 7 Joe Ellyatt, 8 Laurence Pearce.
16 Jared Saunders, 17 Marshall Gadd, 18 Ross Davies, 19 Pale Nonu
20 Alex Rieder, 21 Lee Blackett, 22 Garry Law.
Aberavon go into this match on the back of a 44-6 win over Beddau in the SWALEC cup that earned them a quarter final tie away to Swansea.
It took the Wizards almost 50 minutes to break down a stubborn Beddau defence, but they grew in confidence and finished with five tries.
“Beddau were well-drilled and gave us a good run for much of the game,” said Wizards' head coach Simon King. “It was what we needed to put a third successive win together and our players put in a good shift.”
Howard Thomas; Stefan Andrews, Richard Thomas, Will Price, Paul Bamsey
Craig Evans, Dan Davies; Rowan Jenkins, Evan Yardley, Chris John
Rhydian Gierat, Tegan Price, Lee Purnell, Richard Morris, Nathan Brown.
Nathan Jones, Richard Carter, Mike Kennedy, Ieuan Davies, Sean Derrick, Steffan Jones, Neil White.
The Star: Rotherham Titans: Codling runs the rule over trialists
While Rotherham do not have a chance of reaching the quarter finals because Munster are through, the match against Aberavon is important because coach Alex Codling is using it as an opportunity to assess several trialists.
“I am really looking forward to this game because it is an important opportunity to play people who have got the potential to appear for us next season,” said Codling.
“It is an opportunity to play in a competitive game and while Rotherham have nothing to play for, several players have.
“The British and Irish Cup has been a positive experience for us this season and with three wins out of five so far, we have done well.”
Full Story www.thestar.co.uk
Nottingham winger Jack Cobden has been forced out of today’s clash against Llandovery due to illness.
Cobden was poised to make his 100th appearance for the Green and Whites in the must-win Pool 8 match at Meadow Lane.
David Jackson has been called up as Cobden’s replacement and will start on the left wing in the showdown for top spot in the group and a place in the quarter-finals.
Back-row forward Phi Eggleshaw is poised to make his first appearance this season, having undergone shoulder surgery in the opening weeks of the campaign.
After more than six months on the sideline, Fowkes is eager to test the 24-year-old in the game of high stakes.
"Phil has worked long and hard to get back into the side, and as the coach for the weekend I benefit because it is like having a new player in the squad," Fowkes said.
Nottingham needs a comprehensive bonus-point win over the Welsh Principality Premiership side to top the group and progress to the quarter-finals. The Green and Whites also need to keep the visitors quiet, with Llandovery needing only a losing bonus-point to progress to the knock out stage of the cross-border competition.
Prop Matt Parr, flanker Brent Wilson and centre Joe Munro are all rested for the Pool 8 decider. Jonny Harris comes in at loosehead and Andy Forsyth slots in for Munro at inside centre and Tom Calladine is promoted to openside flanker for Wilson.
Fowkes said: "If we get the performance right, this team can get us through to the quarter-finals."
15 Andrew Savage 14 Alex Lewington 13 Tim Streather 12 Andy Forsyth
11 David Jackson 10 James Arlidge 9 Sean Romans
Jonny Harris 2 Joe Duffey 3 Michael Holford 4 Dan Montagu
5 Nic Rouse 6 Rupert Cooper 7 Tom Calladine 8 Alex Shaw.
16 Shaun Malton 17 Ryan Bower 18 Joe Quinn 19 Phil Eggleshaw
20 Finlay Barnham 21 Rory Lynn 22 Joe Coden
Llandovery's form has dropped since Christmas in losing two and drawing one game in the Premiership, being knocked out of the Cup at Bedwas and winning the one game against Melrose in the B and I Cup. But the incentive on Sunday is huge and a win would not only guarantee qualification but could bring a home draw.
They beat Nottingham 28-21 at Church Bank back on October 13 and only need to repeat that good form to go through to join Bedford, Newcastle Falcons, Cornish Pirates, Leinster A, Munster A, Llanelli and probably Bristol in the quarter-finals on April 6.
Llandovery were hoping to have scrum-half Rhodri Williams available but he will be on duty for Wales U20s over the weekend - as will Llandovery wing Aaron Warren.
15. Chris Knight 14. Jake Randall 13. Matthew Jacobs 12. Jack Roberts
11. Sam Soul 10. James Garland 9. Lee Rees
8. Richard Brooks 7. Shaun Miles 6. Phil Day (Captain) 5. Bryn Griffiths
4. Shaun Jones 3. Dean Howells 2. Luke Lewis 1. Dorian Williams
16. Andrew Jones 17. Wyn Jones 18. Luke Kendall 19. Nio Aiono
20. Tom Ball 21. Rob Walters 22. Cerith Rees
Nottingham Post - Nottingham Rugby ready to unleash anger on Llandovery in the cup.
NOTTINGHAM Rugby are angry – and Nic Rouse says Llandovery will face the mother of all backlashes.
The second rower will be the Green and Whites' stand-in skipper on Sunday. It is a big game because Nottingham must claim a bonus-point win to top Pool 8 and get into the quarter-finals.
And Rouse says there is going to be an extra edge to it because the Greens have so much pent up anger inside them, after their shock Championship defeat at London Scottish and the stick they have taken since their league game at Jersey last Saturday was called off.
"There is a lot of frustration in us and we want to unleash it on Llandovery," he said.
Full Story www.thisisnottingham.co.uk
The two clubs have maintained a dialogue since the original postponement, but with a congested fixture list on both sides, the decision was delayed until a suitable slot could be identified.
Steve Cotton Bristol Post
Chief executive Steve Gorvett: Bristol Rugby will keep spending to ensure Aviva Premiership status
“We’ve realised that most years, if you are in the Championship, you have to fight against a team that has just come down from the Premiership,” said Gorvett.
“But you’ve got to assume there will be a Sale or a London Irish coming down, who want to go straight back up, so you have to be able to take them on on a level playing field.
“So the model that Steve and the board have come up with is to do exactly that. They will invest, so the team we can put out is equal to a Premiership team for as long as it takes to get us back up."
Full Story: www.thisisbristol.co.uk
Steve Cotton, Bristol Post - BRISTOL sign Nicky Robinson.
The 31-year-old fly-half, who won 13 caps for Wales, is understood to have turned down offers from several Premiership clubs to join Bristol.
The London Wasps No 10 – who has also played for Cardiff Blues and Gloucester – will join the club ahead of next season.
He follows fellow recent recruits Errie Claassens, Andy Short, Peter Buxton and Mark Sorenson, all of whom will join Bristol from Premiership clubs, while Andy Robinson will begin work as director of rugby on March 1.
Full Story www.thisisbristol.co.uk
Also From Steve Cotton, Bristol Post
ANDY Robinson will put himself under exactly the same pressure to succeed at Bristol as he did when he was leading England and Scotland.
Robinson will begin his role as Bristol’s director of rugby on March 1, having signed a contract that will take him up to the end of the 2016-17 season.
The former England, Scotland, Bath and Edinburgh head coach, who was forwards coach on two British & Irish Lions tours, was confirmed as Bristol’s director of rugby at a press conference on Monday.
And he said his target was to help ensure that Bristol not only return to the Aviva Premiership, from which they were relegated in 2009, but that they stay there and become competitive at the top end.
Full Story www.thisisbristol.co.uk
Bedford Blues players have joined the online dance craze inspired by the music of Brooklyn DJ Baauer.
CLIVE Griffiths, speaking to the Star, says Doncaster Knights survival hopes are in their own hands after the brilliant victory over Leeds.
And the director of rugby believes relegation rivals Jersey and Moseley “won’t be able to live” with the Knights if they turn in a similar performance to the one that secured the 23-17 win in the derby.
With a trip to Moseley up next in a fortnight’s time, Griffiths believes the Knights are finally on the right track to survival.
“If we play like that (Leeds) against Moseley and Jersey they won’t be able to live with us."
Full Story www.thestar.co.uk
Brian Dick of The Birmingham Mail has spoken to Kevin Maggs about last Friday’s defeat at Newcastle
“ I thought we had come a long way, so I was expecting us to do better,” said Maggs
The Moseley head coach admitted he had travelled to Kingston Park anticipating a much closer encounter after seeing his side win their last two Championship matches.
Moseley’s lineout spluttered, they fell off too many tackles and, in short, they did not make Newcastle work hard enough with or without the ball. And that angered the former Ireland international.
After the match Maggs kept his players in the changing rooms while he shared his opinions on the evening’s ‘entertainment’.
Full Story www.birminghammail.co.uk
Nottingham Post - NOTTINGHAM dealt a big injury blow.
Winger Rhys Crane has a hairline leg fracture and is facing up to a month out.
The 27-year-old is having to wear an air cast boot to keep the weight off his right leg and is also on crutches.
His latest injury has come at the worst possible time, because the Green and Whites have a must-win British & Irish Cup clash with Welsh side Llandovery at Meadow Lane on Sunday and they are also in the thick of the play-offs in the Championship.
Forwards coach Neil Fowkes, who will be in charge for the cup tie, admits losing their top scoring back this season is a set-back.
Full Story www.thisisnottingham.co.uk
Saunders arrives at Clifton Lane from Aviva Premiership side Saracens, on a loan deal which will add to the competition for the number 2 jersey.
The 22 years-old native of South Africa is highly thought of and at 6’ and 103 kg, he’s sure to add physicality to the Titans front row.
Saunders has made 10 first team appearances for the North London side, including appearances in the Aviva Premiership, Heineken Cup & LV= Cup, after initially being part of the Saracens Academy.
Titans Head Coach Alex Codling thrilled with the addition of Saunders said, “We are delighted to have Jared here for the rest of the season and are grateful to Saracens and Mark McCall for their co-operation. I was lucky enough to work with Mark when I was at Barking and I know him well; he speaks very highly of Jared.
“Jared has a tremendous amount of potential and he will bring a huge amount of professionalism and dynamism to the environment. We are looking forward to working with him as he continues to improve as a player.”
Titans have imposed a one match ban on lock forward Dan Sanderson,
The ban follows his yellow card at Bristol in the RFU Championship last weekend.
Rotherham Titans view player discipline, both on and off the field, as vitally important and hope the steps it has taken with Dan Sanderson, will send out a strong message to the rest of the Titans playing squad.
Rotherham Head Coach Alex Codling explained, “The club have imposed a 1 match ban on Dan Sanderson following his recent poor discipline. We want to send out a clear message to all the players in our squad that ill discipline will not be tolerated at Rotherham Titans.
“The boys are working very hard, as was seen down at Bristol on Sunday, but the impact of ill discipline in reality can’t be measured in a 10 minute spell and we want it completely stopped. We saw very promising signs down at Bristol, but for me the key moment was the yellow card incident and at this level of rugby the margins between wining and losing are so small.
“It’s important that we set strict boundaries both on and off the field of play and we hope what we’ve done with Dan will send out the right message.”