Round 14 Teams & Previews
Plus news and comment from around the clubs and what the papers say.
Friday 25 January 2013
Bristol 12-9 Leeds Carnegie
Doncaster v London Scottish POSTPONED
Newcastle v Cornish Pirates POSTPONED
Saturday 26 January 2013
Jersey 13-10 Rotherham Titans
Plymouth Albion 6-9 Moseley
Sunday 27 January 2013
Nottingham v Bedford 14:45
Jersey forced to switch pitch and KO time for Rotherham clash
Heavy overnight rain in Jersey has forced a change to arrangements for the Jersey v Rotherham game in the RFU Championship.
After consultations between the home club, referee Steve Lee and Rotherham Head Coach Alex Codling this morning, it was agreed that the main pitch at St Peter was unplayable.
All parties have now agreed to move to the adjacent pitch 2, which is in significantly better condition.
Due to lack of floodlighting on the new pitch, the game will now kick off at 2.30pm to ensure that it is completed in good light conditions
Bristol will be seeking a sixth straight home win when Leeds Carnegie visit the Memorial Ground tonight
Liam Middleton makes four changes from the side that defeated Ulster in the B&I Cup last weekend.
With Mike Tagicakibau and Fautua Otto still sidelined, Ryan Edwards is drafted into the backline for a first appearance in Bristol colours since November.
Mariano Sambucetti returns to the second row, while Redford Pennycook comes in at openside flanker.
Middleton opts for a five forwards and two backs split on the replacements bench, with Alafoti Faosiliva included in the 22-man squad.
Jack Tovey; George Watkins, Luke Eves, Ben Mosses, Ryan Edwards
Adrian Jarvis, James Grindal (c); Kyle Traynor, Ross Johnston, Jason Hobson
Mariano Sambucetti, Glen Townson, Marco Mama, Redford Pennycook, Mitch Eadie.
Rhys Lawrence, Mark Lilley, Wayne Thompson, Ben Glynn, Alafoti Faosiliva, Tristan Roberts, Ruki Tipuna.
Leeds and Bristol are currently level on 33 league points with Carnegie facing the prospect of replaying their recent fixture against Plymouth Albion at home making tonight’s game of huge importance in the race for the top four.
Leeds Head Coach Diccon Edwards is still without the likes of Oli Goss, Fred Burdon, Dan Hemingway and Richard Beck through injury whilst Chris Walker is serving the second week of his three week suspension for being sent off against Jersey in the British and Irish Cup.
Leeds beat Bristol at Headingley Carnegie earlier this season 50-31 with five different scorers but are expecting a much tougher test at the Memorial Ground.
15. Stevie McColl 14. Matt Clark 13. Josh Griffin 12. Pete Lucock
11. David Doherty 10. Rory Clegg 9. Craig Hampson
1. Sam Lockwood 2. Phil Nilsen 3. Damien Tussac 4. Calum Green
5. Dominic Barrow 6. Rob Baldwin 7. Jacob Rowan (c) 8. Ryan Burrows
16. Joe Graham 17. Ben Harris 18. Ben Hooper 19. Matt Smith
20. Mike Myerscough 21. James Doherty 22. Christian Georgiou
The Bristol Post
BRISTOL'S heavy defeat at Leeds earlier this season still rankles with the club's players, with prop Kyle Traynor admitting his team were "embarrassed" at Headingley.
"The next few weeks are crucial, none bigger than Leeds, who embarrassed us up there, I felt," said Traynor.
"The key for us is starting games well – if we're able to start well we can kick on in games. If we start slowly, like at Pirates in our last league game, that's where we get issues.
"We need to get out of the blocks, impose ourselves on Leeds and do well early on. You can put teams under pressure if you start well – especially in front of a big crowd at our place – and that's what we need to do on Friday."
Full Story www.thisisbristol.co.uk
Yorkshire Evening Post - Improved Bristol will pose threat - Edwards
Leeds head coach Diccon Edwards believes Bristol will be a much different proposition this time around, saying: “Last season we had two tough games against them and we beat them at Headingley Carnegie earlier this season but they are much improved since then and will present a big hurdle for us on Friday night.”
Leeds have struggled for consistency so far this campaign. Despite recording some impressive wins which have seen them accumulate the most bonus points in the division, they are yet to beat any of the other sides in the top five.
Leeds could slip to sixth place if they lose at Bristol tonight, and with a game against runaway leaders Newcastle Falcons next, they might find themselves trailing further those ahead of them in the table.
Full Story //www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk
The Bristol Post - Bristol have signed Worcester's Errie Claassens for next season.
The Worcester full-back – the elder brother of Bath and South Africa scrum-half Michael – will join Bristol in the summer.
And he hopes to play Aviva Premiership rugby during his time at Bristol – either next season or in 2014-15.
"It would be wonderful for the club if they were promoted this season – and anything is possible, as we have seen in the last few seasons in the Championship ," said Claassens.
Full Story .thisisbristol.co.uk
The referee who inspected the Castle Park turf this morning deemed the pitch potentially playable; however, in view of the adverse weather forecast, the predicted snow and associated Amber Warnings issued by the UK Met Office and Highways Agency for the Yorkshire & Humber Region, the RFU agreed the postponement of the game until next Friday provided both clubs agreed.
The Club have been in conversation with London Scottish who agreed that, in view of the impending conditions, they would take our advice to not travel and agreed to the postponement.
The Club would like to thank the volunteers and others who braved the elements to clear the snow yesterday.
Despite the best efforts of the ground staff and an army of volunteers, Friday Evening's game against Newcastle at Kingston Park has been postponed following a pitch inspection carried out by the RFU at 3.15pm today.
The rescheduled fixture will take place on the weekend of 22/24 February,
The actual day and kick-off time yet to be decided.
Tickets purchased for this match will automatically transfer to the rearranged date.
Michael Mayhew Joins Irish On Short-Term Loan Deal
Newcastle Falcons hooker Michael Mayhew has joined London Irish on a short-term loan deal.
The 26-year-old Kiwi starts for Brian Smith’s side against Worcester Warriors in the LV= Cup this Sunday.
Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said: “It is a great opportunity for Michael to get some game time under his belt and it will give him valuable experience.”
Jersey are seeking a home win over Rotherham in order to stay clear of the RFU Championship's relegation trapdoor.
The Island side are just two points behind bottom-placed Doncaster, and trail 10th-placed Moseley by the same margin, going into this weekend's round of matches.
The encounter at St Peter will see two of the league's most physical sides go head-to-head, and with Jersey's home turf remaining rain-affected, a repeat of the high-scoring first encounter between the sides - Titans winning 54-31 at Clifton Lane in September - looks unlikely.
Director of Rugby Ben Harvey hands a debut to loan signing Joe Buckle in the back row; this is the only change to the forwards from Jersey's last league encounter against Moseley, with Graham Bell the man replaced.
Jersey's back-line sees three changes from the Moseley trip - Tom Cooper, a replacement that day, starts at centre, Ashley Maggs is on the wing and Barry Davies is chosen at full-back.
"Our pitch remains pretty wet, and that means the break-down and set piece areas are likely to be crucial, with a premium on good defence," Harvey said. "I've gone with a 'horses for courses' selection to reflect the sort of game I'm expecting."
Harvey will encounter a side coached by his former Richmond team-mate Alex Codling, while Jersey also expect to face two ex-players, Latu Makaafi and Joe Ellyatt, who were part of the squad which gained promotion from London Two South - level six in the RFU pyramid at the time - in 2007/08.
1 Sean McCarthy 2 Dave Felton 3 Jon Brennan 4 Nathan Hannay
5 Dave Markham 6 Kingsley Lang 7 Joe Buckle 8 Guy Thompson
9 Nicky Griffiths 10 Mike Le Bourgeois 11 Ed Dawson 12 Tom Cooper
13 Dai Bishop (capt) 14 Ashley Maggs 15 Barry Davies
16 Richard Barrington 17 Charlie Clare 18 James Gethings 19 Rob Anderson
20 Eoghan Nihill 21 Dave McCormack 22 Ross Broadfoot
Rotherham Titans take to the air this weekend as they make their maiden voyage to the island of Jersey.
Previewing the challenge ahead, Titans Alex Codling said, “All games are tough in this division and away games particularly so. Jersey will be desperate for the points, they’ve had a good run of results at home recently and they will fancy their chances. But we have been playing well of late also.
“We have been frustrated with the weather for the last couple of weeks and that’s restricted us in terms of how much training we have done. In an ideal world we would have liked to have had a full week’s normal preparation, but that’s not been possible due to the weather.
“However, we can’t do anything about that, we’ve managed the situation as best as we could and we’ve just got to get on with things. We done some indoor work at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield and that’s been beneficial, although we would have preferred to have done some contact work.
“Jersey has gone through a natural cycle coming into the league, very similar to London Scottish last year and when you’re new to the Championship it takes time to adapt and they’ve done that very well.
“One of Jersey’s major forces is their scrum, but I wouldn’t say that’s their only force and I think we would be doing them a disservice if we said it was. But it is an area of strength for them as it for us. We are looking forward to the battle and it’s a great opportunity for the boys to build on the last few weeks.
“If the boys play to their potential, then I would back them against any team in the division on their day. So, it’s a case of us being as prepared as possible for the challenge and it’s a challenge we are looking forward to.”
15 Fergus Mulchrone, 14 Mike Doneghan, 13 Lee Blackett, 12 Pale Nonu
11 Eamonn Sheridan, 10 Garry Law (Capt.), 9 Charlie Mulchrone
1 Marshall Gadd, 2 Ted Stagg, 3 Gareth Denman, 4 Ben Thomas
5 Dan Sanderson, 6 Latu Makaafi, 7 Joe Ellyatt, 8 Alex Rieder.
16 Harry Hannan, 17 Jamie Kilbane, 18 Ross Davies, 19 Toby Freeman
20 Rory Pitman, 21 Joel Gill, 22 James McKinney.
Charlie Mulchrone pens new deal with the Titans
Charlie Mulchrone has agreed terms with the Titans which will see him remain at Clifton Lane until the summer of 2014.
The 23 year-old livewire scrum half has impressed during his first season with the Titans and has become an integral part of Alex Codlings match day 22.
The former Macclesfield and Ireland under 18 international had no hesitation in committing his future to Rotherham, as he explained, “I’ve really enjoyed my time at Rotherham so far and I love the way it is going. I’m just starting to establish myself here, after missed out at the beginning of the season. Everyone at the club is great, that includes the management, the VP’s and our supporters. I’m really happy here and I’m delighted knowing I’ll be wearing a Titans shirt next season.
“When Alex offered me a new contract it was a very easy decision for me to make. I’ve really enjoyed working with him and I think my game is developing well at the moment. There’s plenty of competition for the jersey and I think we all compliment each other well; Jimmy and Joel are top guys and I think we all enjoy the competition.”
Titans Head Coach Alex Codling, commenting on the news said, “I’m obviously delighted that Charlie has agreed terms to stay at the club for next season. We’ve had tremendous competition this year for the number 9 jersey, with both Jimmy Williams and Joel Gill performing magnificently there for us.
“Charlie has made great strides this season and is playing really well right now and I’m looking forward to him making even more progression in a Titans shirt next season.
Codling went on to describe his ambition in terms of recruiting other members of the current Titans squad for next season, “It’s an ongoing process, we have open dialogue with all the players, but as I’ve said before, it’s inevitable that there will be some change at the end of the season, but I would like to keep the core of the group together so we can build for next year.”
Plymouth Albion will be looking for their first league double of the season tomorrow when Moseley visit Brickfields.
Albion narrowly won a thriller 24-22 in Birmingham at the start of the season.
And head coach Nat Saumi would love another four points tomorrow to get his team’s season back on track.
Saumi admits his side have a point to prove in front of their own fans after a below par display in their last match at Brickfields.
The Albion boss, who has described this weekend’s game as like a ‘cup final’, said: “After a very disappointing performance against Rotherham, supporters were not happy and so the players have to prove a point and show that they are a good team.
"This week the players have been working really hard to try and put everything in place for this weekend."
Eight-placed Albion, who sit two places and seven points in front of Moseley, welcome back captain Sean-Michael Stephen, lock Brett Beukeboom, fly-half Paul Roberts and hooker Jon Vickers to their squad, while Herbie Stupple is included on the bench after returning from a broken shoulder.
15 Rhodri McAtee 14 Toby Howley-Berridge 13 Keni Fisilau 12 Bevon Armitage
11 Tom Bowen 10 Paul Roberts 9 Paul Rowley
1 Jack Andrew 2 Jon Vickers 3 Lloyd Fairbrother 4 Brett Beukeboom
5 Rupeni Nasiga 6 Sean-Michael Stephen (c) 7 Sam Hocking 8 Aaron Carpenter
16 Ruairi Cushion, 17 Jack Arnott, 18 Ben Rogers, 19 David Morton
20 Tom Cowan-Dickie, 21 Herbie Stupple, 22 Sam Matavesi/*ends*/
Moseley's side shows several changes from that which performed so flatly against Llanelli in last week's B & I Cup Pool decider, resulting in a heavy defeat at Parc Y Scarlets.
Experience is added to the Birmingham side’s pack with the return of Ben Evans and Neil Mason. In the backs Sam Brown returns at scrum-half and Glynn Hughes gets the number 10 shirt in preference to former Albion Player Brad Davies.
1.Stefan Thorp; 2. Sam Wilkes; 3. Ben Evans; 4. Addison Lockley;
5. Mike Powell; 6.Neil Mason; 7. Oliver Robinson; 8.Ben Pienaar
9. Sam Brown; 10.Glynn Hughes; 11 Brad Hunt
12.Anthony Carter; 13. Greg King; 14. Simon Hunt; 15. Billy Robinson
16. Danny Herriott; 17. Buster Lawrence; 18. Adam Caves; 19.Sam Dickinson
20. Ben Pons; 21. Scott Armstrong; 22. Oliver Thomas
Sara Raine, Plymouth Herald - Albion Players Determined To Get Back On Track
Toby Howley-Berridge says the Plymouth Albion players are determined to get their season back on track.
Albion head into tomorrow's match against third-from-bottom Moseley with just one win to their name in the league since the end of September.
"This is a massive game for us," said the utility back, who will start on the wing tomorrow.
"We had a great start (to the season) but then we've had a poor middle section."
"But it is the new year now and we need to get things back on track and get the ball rolling again."
Full Story www.thisisplymouth.co.uk
Brian Dick, Birmingham Post - Moseley's leading scorer signs for London Wasps
MOSELEY have suffered a second blow in three days with the loss of Charlie Hayter to Premiership outfit London Wasps.
The 24-year-old, who has been arguably Moseley's best player this season, is believed to have signed an 18-month deal and goes straight into Dai Young's squad for this weekend's LV= Cup match with Leicester.
Moseley, meanwhile, must find a way of filling their leading scorer's shoes just a few days before their important Championship game at Plymouth.
Full Story www.birminghampost.net
Nottingham prop Matt Parr and hooker Joe Duffey will both make their first appearances of 2013 on Sunday when the Green and Whites host Bedford at Meadow Lane.
The return of the pair was put on ice last week when Nottingham’s British and Irish Cup clash with Llandovery was postponed due to the big freeze that gripped the East Midlands.
Head coach Martin Haag did not hesitate ushering the front row pair into the starting XV for the second-versus-third RFU Championship clash.
Parr comes back from injury to replace Jonny Harris at loose head, while Shaun Malton makes way for Duffey following his suspension.
“Matt has come back fit from his finger problem and I’m looking forward to seeing him in action,” Haag said.
“Joe hasn’t played too much of a part in the last few weeks but he is champing at the bit to get back. Shaun Malton came in and progressed a lot over the last two or three games in particular, but having Joe back adds that experience for a game like this.”
Weather conditions and affected matches has forced a re-shuffle among the backs with Andrew Savage given another week to recover from injury after initially being named in the side to take on Llandovery seven days ago.
David Jackson starts at full back, with Alex Lewington moving onto the right wing.
Lock Dan Montagu is poised to make his 100th appearance in the Championship clash that will decide who will finish the weekend sitting outright second on the league table.
Nottingham are currently second, equal with Bedford with 45 competition points but ahead on points difference.
The clash, to be televised live on Sky Sports, has generated record ticket pre-sales for Nottingham this season.
Despite the buzz of anticipation and high stakes, Haag refuses to be distracted.
“There is a lot of interest in this game, but from our point of view it is just another game along our journey,” Haag said.
“For us it is about staying composed - composed on the field, composed off the field and making sure that we do the things we are capable of doing. “
With temperatures set to rise over the weekend, forecasted to reach 7C on Sunday, Nottingham Rugby bosses and ground staff are extremely confident the clash will go ahead.
The frost covers remain on the pitch as more snow is expected to fall in the East Midlands today (Friday).
15 David Jackson 14 Alex Lewington 13 Tim Streather 12 Joe Munro
11 Rhys Crane 10 James Arlidge 9 Sean Romans
1 Matt Parr 2 Joe Duffey 3 Michael Holford 4 Dan Montagu
5 Nic Rouse 6 Rupert Cooper 7 Brent Wilson 8 Alex Shaw.
16 Shaun Malton 17 Ryan Bower 18 Joe Quinn 19 Tom Calladine
20 Finlay Barnham 21 Rory Lynn 22 Joe Cobden.
After an enforced break last weekend, Bedford Blues return to action with an East Midlands clash to determine who will finish round 14 of the Championship season in second place.
Bedford and Nottingham both have 45 points in the league so far this season, but the Green and Whites currently sit behind Newcastle thanks to a greater points difference in the for and against column.
To add a bit of extra spice to the encounter, Sky Sports will be at Meadow Lane to broadcast the game to rugby fans around the world.
Bedford will be without prop Darren Fearn and scrum half Ali Price who have been loaned to Premiership outfit Saracens for their LV=Cup fixture against Cardiff Blues which will be played at the new Allianz Park on Sunday afternoon.
Also missing will be long-term injury victim Sacha Harding who suffered a dislocation and break of his ankle during the victory over Leeds back in early December. The flanker had his cast removed this week and is working hard on his rehabilitation schedule with the aim of pulling on a Blues jersey before the season ends.
15. Ben Ransom 14. Josh Bassett 13. Brendan Burke 12. Ollie Dodge
11. James Pritchard (c) 10. Jake Sharp 9. Luke Baldwin
1. Ricky Reeves 2. Neil Cochrane 3. Phil Boulton 4. Mike Howard
5. Ben Gulliver 6. Gregor Gillanders 7. Darren Fox 8. Paul Tupai
16. Chris Locke, 17. Dan Seal, 18. Alex Rae, 19. Don Barrell
20. Darryl Veenendaal, 21. Mark Atkinson, 22. James Stephenson
Nottingham Post - Greens go indoors to prepare for big clash with Bedford
THE snow may have badly disrupted Nottingham Rugby's ability to train in the past fortnight, but skipper Brent Wilson says they will still be ready to go for their crunch clash with Bedford at Meadow Lane on Sunday.
But their build-up has not been ideal and the Greens have been forced indoors as their Lady Bay training ground is under snow.
"The weather and conditions are not ideal, but you've just got to roll with it really and make the most of it," said Wilson.
"We've been going to indoor facilities we can get hold of and had to adapt our training quite a bit when working on different surfaces.
Full Story www.thisisnottingham.co.uk
Kevin Affleck, Beds On Sunday - Bedford Blues seek to raise performance levels
THE Bedford Blues director of rugby has conceded his side have “dropped their performance levels” in the previous two weeks and knows they will need to raise them for the trip to face a Nottingham side he feels produced the best half of rugby against his side this season.
“It’s a top-of-the-table clash, second against third and it will be a big challenge,” said Rayer. “We want to get back on the horse and performing as we have been. Our performance levels have dropped slightly in recent weeks.”
Bedford lost their last league match, at London Scottish, and can expect another searching examination of their play-off credentials at Meadow Lane on Sunday.
Full Story www.bedfordshire-news.co.uk