RFU Championship News

Friday 13th

RFU Championship News 13th January 2012


RFU Championship News Friday 13th January 2012

Previews of all the Round 18 games
All the teams plus news and comment from around the clubs.

Saturday 14th January 2012 Sunday 15th January 2012
Bedford v London Scottish 15:00
Esher v Cornish Pirates 15:00
London Welsh v Bristol 14:00
Plymouth Albion v Leeds 15:00
Rotherham Titans v Moseley 13:00
Nottingham v Doncaster 15:00

RFU Preview


RFU Round 18 Preview

Rotherham lost their perfect home record against London Welsh in their last outing and Titans Head Coach Andre Bester will expect the right response when they take on Moseley at Clifton Lane on Saturday. Rotherham enjoyed a 12- game winning run against Moseley at this level from 1998-2007, but the head- to- head record in the last ten fixtures has been far more even, with the Titans winning on four occasions, including a 36-8 success at Billesley Common earlier in the season, to Moseley’s six.

Having put their poor festive form behind them with victory at Rotherham, London Welsh welcome league leaders Bristol to Old Deer Park. Bristol won the first encounter this season, 35-33, but the West Country outfit has been beaten heavily on their last two visits to south- west London, conceding 93 points and scoring just 23 in the process.

Nottingham entertain Doncaster in Sunday’s solitary fixture. The Knights turned in arguably their worst display of the campaign in losing 15-32 to the Midlanders back in October, but half of the ten previous clashes have gone in their favour.

Leeds found their attacking form in the 32-42 win over Moseley last weekend, scoring six tries – their best return in a game this season. A trip to out- of- sorts Plymouth waits in Round 18.

Elsewhere, Esher will be looking to repeat last season’s shock win over Cornish Pirates at Molesey Road, and Bedford will be mathematically certain of a play- off place if they avoid defeat at home to London Scottish.

Saturday 7 January 2012

Bedford v London Scottish 15:00



Bedford Blues - Keen to put the disappointment of defeat behind them, Bedford Blues return to action at Goldington Road tomorrow afternoon against London Scottish.

Last weekend was one to forget for the Blues as they slumped to a 33-12 loss against Doncaster Knights at Castle Park, but they will be hoping for a performance similar to the one against Cornish Pirates on New Years day when the Exiles come to town.

Bedford will be without a number of players again this weekend. Dave Vincent picked up an ankle injury against the Knights which will keep him out for a couple of weeks and Sacha Harding continues to recover from a knee problem. Brendan Burke has also has an injury to the ankle while Mike Howard has a slight issue with his neck, but both should be back next week along with Jon Fisher who has returned to full training following a stress fracture in his foot. Sam Walsh’s recovery from injury also means that Dan Seal gets a break this weekend and Ollie Dodge also returns to action.

One other man missing from this weekend’s squad is young scrum half Alistair Price who was named this week in the Scottish 40-man squad for the upcoming Under 20s Six Nations tournament. Ali has travelled up to Edinburgh to join up with Peter Wright’s squad in the hope of making the starting squad when the competition kicks off on February 3 against England.

Looking ahead to Saturday’s game, Blues Director of Rugby Mike Rayer said: “For us, this is a must win game and we want to continue our progression at Goldington Road.

“I think that all of the ingredients are there for a really good game. We know that London Scottish play in a really positive fashion and there is every chance that we could see a try-fest.

“We’ve just got to make sure that we defend like we did against Cornish Pirates in the second half rather than like we did against Doncaster in the final ten minutes.”

Rayer makes a host of changes to the team that started at Doncaster last weekend with only James Pritchard, Henry Staff, Josh Bassett, Nico Steenkamp, Don Barrell and Paul Tupai retaining their place.

Bedford Blues
15. James Pritchard (c) 14. Mark Kohler 13. Henry Staff 12. Ian Vass
11. Josh Bassett 10. Jake Sharp 9. Stefan Liebenberg
1. Nico Steenkamp 2. Chris Locke 3. Phil Boulton 4. Paul Tupai
5. Sean Tomes 6. Gregor Gillanders 7. Alex Rae 8. Don Barrell

16. Neil Cochrane, 17. Sam Walsh, 18. Sam Pailor, 19. Billy Johnson
20. Darryl Veenendaal, 21. Jamie Lennard, 22. Ollie Dodge.


London Scottish


London Scottish head to Bedford on Saturday (3pm) with a degree of optimism after their victory over Plymouth last weekend.

That game meant that Scottish have now won two of the last three Championship matches, with only that last minute loss away at Leeds tarnishing their record, and confidence is growing in the squad that they belong in the company of established Championship clubs such as Bedford.

Nobody is under any illusions that Bedford represent a pushover though: the Blues played some excellent rugby at the Athletic Ground earlier this season, and recorded a professional 41-15 victory against a depleted Scottish team.

For Saturday’s game, Ben MacDougall returns in the centre following Mitchell Tamiau’s unfortunate jaw fracture last time out, and Argentine international Alfredo Lalanne is reunited with the number 9 shirt.

The second row sees a complete change as Ben Thomas returns to the starting line up after injury, and Karl Rudzki replaces Josh Thomas Brown after his citing against Leeds.

Scottish are aware that it would require an unlikely turnaround in the Championship standings to escape the bottom four play-offs. However, the chase is now on for points to take into the play-offs, and with Moseley and Plymouth sharing Scottish’s current standing of five wins, every match is an opportunity to gain an extra foothold come the end of season shake-up.

London Scottish
15. Stuart Peel 14. Agustin Gosio 13. Ryan Westren 12. Ben MacDougall
11. Mark Robertson 10. Dan Mugford 9. Alfredo Lalanne
8. Willie Lipp 7. Ben Lonergan 6. Adam Kleeberger 5. Ben Thomas
4. Karl Rudzki 3. Aaron Liffchak 2. Tom Standfield 1. Anthony Kent

16. Craig McGrath 17. Alex MacKenzie 18. Alex Karonias 19. James Kellard
20. Matt Heeks 21. James Brown 22. Sean Morris


Esher v Cornish Pirates 15:00



Esher - Mike Schmid believes Esher’s fighting spirit will see them escape relegation from the Championship.

The Esher Director of Rugby was delighted with the commitment in a 27-7 defeat at league leaders Bristol last Sunday.

And he believes Esher can still finish the season on a high as they begin their final five game run-in with a home clash against fourth-placed Cornish Pirates on Saturday.

Esher remain 15 points adrift at the foot of the Championship after just one win this season and face a four-team relegation play-off in March with Moseley, Plymouth and London Scottish their likely opponents.

Their rivals could have a significant head start on Esher with all three having won five games this season with each one worth a point in the play-offs.

But Schmid believes his Esher side are showing the resilience that will see them survive after the recent draw at London Welsh and morale-boosting win against Rotherham.

He said: “We defended to the death at Bristol and that was testament to the character of the boys and I was extremely proud of them.

“Bristol are the top team in the division and the form team too but we worked really hard against them.

“It’s going to be another tough game against Cornish Pirates, who beat Nottingham last weekend. But the guys are growing in confidence and their energy and commitment was outstanding at Bristol.

“We’ve got five games left before the play-offs and we have got to try and win the majority of them.

“We have three home games left before the play-offs and now we must back up that win against Rotherham. We had a great crowd that day and we must make sure we give them another performance to be proud of.”

Esher had to withstand of the loss of their second-row pairing Ian Kench and Charlie Matthews before the half hour mark at Bristol. Kench was knocked cold and play was held up for several minutes before he was taken to hospital. However, he was later given the all-clear and returned to Surrey with the team.

Matthews also left the action after just half an hour with a knee injury but Schmid is hopeful the dual-registered Harlequins lock will be fit to face the Pirates.

Esher’s commitment was epitomised by the bravery of Tom Alexander, who played most of the game with a fractured cheekbone that will keep him out for six weeks.

Schmid said: “That shows a lot about the character of the guy. He did the damage early on but stayed on for the rest of the game. However, it looks like he will be out for six to eight weeks which is a huge blow.”

On the plus side Canada star Phil Mackenzie returns to face Pirates following a toe injury.

However, that presented Schmid with a selection dilemma with skipper Tom Cheeseman and Arran Cruickshanks impressing in midfield. Mackenzie moves out to the wing, where he starred for Canada in the World Cup.

15 Ross Chisholm 14 Phil Mackenzie 13 Tom Cheeseman (Capt.) 12 Arran Cruickshanks
11 Charlie Walker 10 Mark Atkinson 9 Jamie Mackenzie
1 Dave Millard 2 James Campbell 3 Will Collier 4 Matt Symons
5 James Inglis 6 Chris Goodman 7 Sam Stitcher 8 Mike Macfarlane

16 Ricky Nebbett (FR) 17 Shawn Renwick 18 James Doherty 19 Kevin Corrigan (FR)
20 Geoff Griffiths 21 Nicky Little 22 Andy Garner


Cornish Pirates


The Cornish Pirates know a tough examination awaits against a revived home side.

The Pirates lost 13-12 in the corresponding fixture at Molesey Road last year, and although Esher are presently at the foot of the league table their results of recent have drawn attention.

They drew 13-13 at London Welsh on Boxing Day and followed this up with a 24-12 win against Rotherham Titans on New Year's Eve, which was their first and only Championship victory of the season to date.

Last weekend the 'EEEs' went down 27-7 at Bristol, but in the process they denied the league leaders a bonus point.

There are a number of changes in the Pirates line-up from the one that ran out against Nottingham last weekend, with two young guns, hooker Tom Cowan-Dickie and fly-half Aaron Penberthy, named to make their first Championship starts.

Also, following confirmation that Drew Locke suffered a broken collar bone in the match against the 'Green & Whites', another gifted youngster making a favourable impression, Sam Hill, will partner Grant Pointer in the centre.

Flanker Kyle Marriott is listed to captain the side in the absence of rested skipper Gavin Cattle.

Cornish Pirates:
R. Cook, M. Evans, G. Pointer, S. Hill, D. Doherty
A. Penberthy, J. Doherty, B. Maidment, C. Walker-Blair, K. Marriott (capt)
M. Smith I. Nimmo, R. Brits, T. Cowan-Dickie, P. Andrew

C. Rimmer, D. Ward, L. Fairbrother, L. McGlone
C. Morgan, T. Kessell, T. Cooper.

Match officials
Referee: Mr Michael Tutty, Hertfordshire  
Referee: Coach: Keith Page, Hampshire  
AR 1: Mr Matthew Carley, Kent  
AR2: Mr Christopher Seeley, Warwickshire


London Welsh v Bristol 14:00

London Welsh


London Welsh - It’s first against third at Old Deer Park on Saturday as London Welsh entertain Championship leaders Bristol.

The two sides served up a classic earlier in the season in front of the live Sky Sports cameras, with Jack Tovey’s late try giving Bristol a thrilling 35-33 win.

London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones makes three changes for this top of the table clash. Guy Armitage returns at inside centre in place of James Lewis, having missed the trip to Rotherham Titans.

The other changes come in the front row with London Irish duo Max Lahiff and Leo Halavatu replacing Tom French, who drops to the bench, and Shawn Pittman.

It’s a welcome return to Old Deer Park for Lahiff, who made his debut for the club away to Nottingham in the 2009/10 play-offs and has made 15 appearances for the club in total.

On the bench, there are returns for hooker Vili Ma’asi and lock Adam Brown, while there’s also a place for London Irish back row forward Kieran Low.

Welsh won both meetings between the two sides at Old Deer Park last season, 39-14 during the regular season and 54-9 in the play-offs. Bristol’s last win at Old Deer Park came the previous season when they came away with a 28-23 victory in September 2009.

London Welsh:
15. Alex Davies, 14. Liam Gibson, 13. Hudson Tonga’uiha, 12. Guy Armitage, 11. Joe Ajuwa
10. Gordon Ross ©, 9. Rob Lewis
1. Max Lahiff, 2. Saul Nelson, 3. Leo Halavatu, 4. Matt Corker, 5. Martin Purdy
6. Lee Beach, 7. Mike Denbee, 8. Ed Jackson.

16. Vili Ma’asi, 17. Tom French, 18. Adam Brown, 19. Kieran Low,
20. Jack Moates, 21. Will Hurrell, 22. Edd Thrower.




Bristol - Liam Middleton makes two changes as Bristol Rugby set their sights on an eighth successive RFU Championship victory against London Welsh at Old Deer Park.

The Head Coach keeps faith in the majority of the side that secured a 27-7 win over Esher last weekend.

In an enforced change, Marco Mama replaces injured skipper Iain Grieve at no. 8, while Jack Tovey returns in place of George Watkins on the wing.

Sean Marsden is primed to make his 100th league appearance for the Club after being named at full-back. Fautua Otto, who has notched five tries in the last six games, starts in the midfield alongside Junior Fatialofa.

In the forwards, James Merriman assumes the captaincy in Grieve’s absence and forms a pacy back-row partnership with Josh Ovens and Marco Mama.

Middleton retains a four forwards and three backs split on the replacements bench, with Roy Winters and Tristan Roberts included in the 22-man squad.

Bristol Rugby
Sean Marsden; Jack Tovey, Fautua Otto, Junior Fatialofa, Jon Goodridge;
Matty James, Ruki Tipuna; Darren Crompton, Rhys Lawrence, Wayne Thompson
Mariano Sambucetti, Glen Townson, Josh Ovens, James Merriman (c), Marco Mama.

Ross Johnston, Mark Irish, Roy Winters, Mitch Eadie, Tom Slater
Tristan Roberts, George Watkins.


Other News From Bristol

Bristol are waiting to discover whether the departure of Alan Tait from Newcastle has scuppered their move to bring Luke Eves back to the Memorial Stadium.

Bristol had hoped to finalise the re-signing of centre Eves yesterday – only for Newcastle to announce head coach Tait had left the club.

Gary Gold has been brought in as director of rugby at Kingston Park and appears eager to assess his squad before sanctioning any player departures.

Full Story www.thisisbristol.co.uk

Plymouth Albion v Leeds 15:00

Plymouth Albion


Plymouth Albion - Sione Tu'ipulotu has been named on Plymouth Albion's bench for Saturday's home game against Leeds after returning to the club this week from Premiership side Worcester Warriors.

The experienced Tongan international, who can play anywhere from scrum-half to full-back, was Albion's player of the year in 2010-11 and his impressive form in the Championship resulted in Worcester signing him during the summer.

But the Warriors have now allowed him to return to Albion on loan to gain some valuable game time.

Albion coach Nat Saumi is certainly delighted to have Tu'ipulotu back at the club.

"He is a quality player who did a tremendous job for us last season," said Saumi. "He is also experienced. We have got lots of youngsters who are really impressing, but it is always good to have some old heads."

Saumi and fellow coach John Roberts have resisted the temptation to throw Tu'ipulotu straight into the team tomorrow.

Instead, Albion name the same starting 15 as they have done for their last two matches.

Albion are hoping to claim a sixth home win of the season tomorrow and make it a hat-trick of victories over Yorkshire opponents at Brickfields, having already beaten Doncaster and Rotherham on their own patch.

Kick-off at Brickfields tomorrow (Saturday) is 3pm and admission starts at £13 for adults and £1 for children. For more information on ticket prices visit www.plymouthalbion.com

Plymouth Albion:
15 James Love, 14 Paul Bailey, 13 Bevon Armitage, 12 Keni Fisilau, 11 Tyson Lewis
10 Paul Roberts, 9 Paul Rowley
1 Jack Andrew, 2 Gareth Evans, 3 Ryan Hopkins, 4 Tyler Hotson, 5 Addison Lockley
6 Sean-Michael Stephen (capt), 7 Wayne Sprangle, 8 Herbie Stupple.

Ruairi Cushion, Sione Tu'ipulotu, Rob Dugard, David Morton
Rupert Freestone, Sam Hocking, Aaron Carpenter.


Other News From Albion:

The Herald reports that former Plymouth Albion stars Dan Ward-Smith and Martin Schusterman are urging everyone to rally around the club to make sure the city does not lose its professional rugby side.

Albion are fighting for their survival on and off the pitch. The club need to raise £250,000 to avoid going to administration.

The Herald has backed a campaign to try and raise the money to keep the club afloat.

Full Story www.thisisplymouth.co.uk

The Herald also reports that fans have formed a supporters' club to help financially stricken Albion

Fifty supporters met this week and agreed to set up the club.

All money they raise this season will be given to Albion.

Lesley Olney, who was elected chair of the supporters' club, said: "We will not walk away and leave Plymouth Albion."

Full Story www.thisisplymouth.co.uk

Leeds Carnegie


Leeds Carnegie Head Coach Diccon Edwards has been forced into make changes to his side to face Plymouth Albion this Saturday in the Championship.

Three of the changes come in the back line with Scott Barrow replacing Jordan Davies and Robbie Shaw coming in for Will Cliff, as both have returned to Sale Sharks for one week. Finally, George Ford has returned to Leicester Tigers from his loan deal and his older brother Joe comes back in at fly half.

Mike MacDonald is ruled out with a wrist injury so Gareth Denman comes in at loose head prop whilst Scott Freer comes in for Phil Nilsen at hooker.

On the bench, Sam Lockwood and Dan Hemingway return from injury.

Leeds Carnegie
15. Tommy Bell 14. Michael Stephenson 13. Iain Thornley 12. Scott Barrow
11. Pete Lucock 10. Joe Ford 9. Robbie Shaw
1. Gareth Denman 2. Scott Freer 3. Kane Palma-Newport 4. Tom Denton
5. Sean Hohneck 6. Ryan Burrows 7. Chris Walker 8. Jacob Rowan (c)

16. Phil Nilsen 17. Sam Lockwood 18. Mo Mustafa 19. Dan Hemingway
20. Richard Beck 21. Craig Hampson 22. Ollie Denton


Other News From Leeds:

Former England defence coach Mike Ford is to work in a consultancy capacity for both Leeds Carnegie and Newcastle Falcons.

Ford has been holding informal sessions with Championship side Leeds since his return from World Cup duty with England.

Ford was released by the Rugby Football Union before Christmas and Leeds had been in negotiations ever since to make that arrangement more formal.

Yesterday, however, Newcastle announced that Ford would be the Falcons new defence coach, working under the club’s new director of rugby, Gary Gold, following the departure of Alan Tait.

Full Story www.yorkshirepost.co.uk

Rotherham Titans v Moseley 13:00

Rotherham Titans


Rotherham Titans are seeking their first ‘double’ of the season when they entertain Moseley at Clifton Lane tomorrow.

Titans visit to Moseley back in October saw them pick up maximum points in a 5-try romp as they ran out impressive 36-8 victors and the South Yorkshire side would like a similar result on Saturday, following disappointing back to back losses in the Championship.

Titans coach Andre Bester has made 4 changes this week, with two of those positional. In the back line Elliot Brierley comes in at outside centre for Dave McCall, at lock Adrian Griffiths returns, meaning club captain Sam Dickinson moves to number 8 and Robin Copeland switches back to blindside. Semisi Taulava is expected to be on the bench.

The clubs have an overall head to head which sees Rotherham hold a healthy 18-8 advantage, although the south Birmingham side have won 6 of the last 9 encounters, meaning Rotherham will not take anything for granted.

Looking ahead to Saturday’s game Andre Bester said, “Moseley is just another match and I’m not making any more of it than that. Every team in the division has had a blip at different stages of the season and after the holiday period we had ours and hopefully it is now behind us.

“The important thing is it doesn’t make us a bad side overnight and I have to say we’ve not had the rub of the green recently. All teams need that bit of luck and we are no different. The team that ends up winning the Championship this year will no doubt have that bit of luck coming their way.

“Worcester are currently doing very well in the Premiership and they benefited last year with a penalty being missed in front of the posts; they wouldn’t be in the Premiership had that kick gone over, all successful sides need that bit of luck. I feel we are due some and I hope we manage to get ours when we get into the play-offs.

“We know by now that all Championship games are tough encounters and Moseley has a tough set of forwards and a very good back line which will test us throughout. Moseley strength has always been their pack but there are playing a fairly expansive game right now.

“It is probably a characteristic of teams trying to play their way out of the relegation play-offs. They have a no fear attitude towards matches and they have a go, because the pressure is not as much on them and that allows them some freedom. Currently Moseley are playing without fear and that’s why they are getting some fairly good results.

"You only see how good a team is when the pressure is on!

“However, if Rotherham play well, there is not a team in the league that can beat them!”

Rotherham Titans
15 Tom Foden, 14 Peter Homan, 13 Elliot Brierley, 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Shane Monahan
10 Garry Law, 9 Jimmy Williams
1 Jamie Kilbane, 2 Ted Stagg, 3 Rob O’Donnell, 4 Barney Maddison, 5 Adrian Griffiths
6 Robin Copeland, 7 Sean Dougall, 8 Sam Dickinson (Capt.).

16 Dan Baines, 17 Shane Cahill, 18 Ben Harris, 19 Semisi Taulava
20 Byron Godfrey, 21 Matt Rhodes, 22 Cliffie Hodgson.




Moseley - After a pulsating match against in-form Leeds at home last week, Kevin Maggs has made a number of changes for the trip north to Rotherham. Some are enforced, with injuries to Greg King and Chevvy Pennycook keeping them out of the fray.

In the front row Colin Quigley is selected ahead of Adam Caves for the return to his former club, whilst in the backs Glynn Hughes retains the full-back berth after a promising display last week.

Moseley were soundly beaten in the corresponding fixture in Birmingham, but with a fairly good recent record at Clifton Lane they will be travelling with some hope of gaining recompense.

1. Tom Warren; 2.Colin Quigley; 3. Craig Voisey; 4.Richard Stott; 5.Paul Spivey;
6.Neil Mason; 7.Michael Ellery; 8.Michael Maltman 09. Ryan Glynn; 10. Bradley Davies
11. William Robinson; 12.Andy Reay; 13. Brad Hunt; 14. Anthony Carter; 15. Glynn Hughes

16. Anthony O’donnell;17. Marshall Gadd; 18. Adam Caves; 19. Michael Lowcock
20. Michael Gillick; 21. James Ingles; 22 Sam Brown.


Other News From Moseley:

Young Moseley star Glyn Hughes hopes to be able to play at Billesley Common for the rest of the Championship campaign.

The dual-registered Northampton Saint has made a massive impact since making his debut less than a month ago.

As well as kicking the decisive points in the win over London Welsh, the fly-half backed that up with a promising performance from full-back in last weekend’s defeat to Leeds.

And the 20-year-old says he is happy to continue his comeback from a serious knee injury in the Red and Black of Moseley.

Full Story /www.birminghampost.net

Sunday 15th January 2012

Nottingham v Doncaster 15:00



Nottingham Rugby are looking to get back to winning ways when they take on local rivals, the Doncaster Knights, at Meadow Lane on Sunday.

The Green and Whites have lost three matches in a row over the festive period and will be hoping to improve on that record and climb back up the Championship table.

Nottingham lost narrowly away to Cornish Pirates in their previous match despite having led for the majority of the game. A spell with only 13 players on the pitch ultimately proved costly and they left with only a losing bonus point to show for their efforts.

Doncaster on the other hand managed an excellent home victory over second placed Bedford in their last outing and will be in a buoyant mood on the back of that performance.

Matches between the two sides are traditionally close and their head to head record in recent seasons shows that little separates the sides in the heat of battle.

Nottingham’s Director of Rugby, Glenn Delaney said, “It was incredibly disappointing to lose to the Pirates last weekend after we’d been in the driving seat from the beginning of the match. We were clinical, our defence held up well and we looked threatening whenever we attacked.

“The first yellow card for Levi, after Pirates had scored their first try, was a bit of a strange one. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone sin binned after a try was conceded before. Wilson’s yellow early in the second half was also a harsh call and we paid for being down to 13 men against a very good side.

“It’ll be good to get out on the pitch and put that match behind us, hopefully by putting in a similar level of performance. We need to make the most of home advantage as this is our penultimate match at Meadow Lane before, we hope, the play offs.

“Doncaster are a good side and we always know we’ve been in a battle when we’ve faced them. I expect Sunday to be no different.”

Nottingham have made three changes to the starting line-up to face Doncaster. Richard De Carpentier’s injury sees Filipo Levi move back to number 8 with Craig Hammond returning in the second row as captain.

Ben Prescott comes back into the front row for Matt Parr and the returning Mike Penn replaces Alex Lewington on the wing.

Michael Holford, Joe Duffey, Ben Prescott, Craig Hammond (c), Nic Rouse
Sione Kalamafoni, Brent Wilson, Filipo Levi
Sean Romans, James Arlidge, ,Jack Cobden, Juan Socino
Tim Streather, Mike Penn, Andy Savage

Ollie Taylor, Raphael Olive, Matt Shields, Lee Morley
Rupert Cooper, Finlay Barnham, Joe Munro


Other News From Nottingham:

New Zealand-born hooker Matt Holloway has signed for Nottingham Rugby.

Holloway, who turns 27 next week, joins the Green and Whites from Southland, having played in the National Provincial Championship last season.

Nottingham's director of rugby, Glenn Delaney, said: "We recognised a need to strengthen our resources at hooker prior to the closing of the transfer window on the 27th of this month.

Full Story www.thisisnottingham.co.uk



Doncaster Knights - The Knights take on Nottingham on the back of the impressive performance against Bedford last weekend.

Director of Rugby Brett Davey has made three changes to his side which sees PJ Gidlow, Zack Farivarz and Glen Kenworthy returning to the starting XV.

Davey believes his side have learnt a lot since their drubbing at home against the Green and Whites earlier this season:

“In the lead up to Nottingham we were dreadful all week, we spoke about it this week and we know we didn’t apply ourselves. But we have learnt our lessons, and I don’t think we have had many bad performances since.”

After the stunning performance last weekend the Director of Rugby is looking for his side to back up result with a strong display against seventh placed Nottingham who lie on the equal amount of points as the Knights.

“We are planning a repeat performance. There was a lot of good stuff last weekend, but unfortunately we have this uncanny knack of not backing it up and when we are getting to the crucial stage of the season we need to be doing it.”

Having suffered defeat to Nottingham twice this year, once earlier at Meadow Lane in the British & Irish Cup and then in the league at Castle Park, Davey is looking to address the balance of results between the two sides.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve been playing badly, even against Plymouth conditions got the better of us and they took they’re chances. We probably lack consistency more than anything else, but playing on a football pitch will help us the way we play, but Nottingham have a strong home record and we've got to try and break it.”

With both sides occupying the final two play-off places and sitting on the same amount of points (44), 15 clear of London Scottish, a win this weekend for either side will just about see them clinch a place in the play-offs in the opinion of the Knights DOR.

“I think a win may secure us that promotion play-off spot, but we can’t take anything for granted until we are there. We’ve not looked beneath us all year as a management team we believe we are chasing the teams above and we are encouraging the boys to go out and perform and when they share that belief we produce good rugby.

“If we win on Sunday it would be very difficult for anyone to catch us, but we won’t be resting on our laurels. We’ve been taking it week and will continue to do so and hopefully we can continue our current form into the play-offs.”

Players returning to the side this weekend are under no illusions of the competition for places in the side as players are now returning from injury at the crucial stage of the season and the Director of Rugby has been landed with a real selection headache ahead of the vital clash.

“This week’s selection was really tough, we’ve picked a team we believe can produce a great performance. It helps when we are getting players back from injury and increasing competition for places so players can’t moan they haven’t had an opportunity; they’ve got to perform which they did against Bedford.

“Andy Boyde and Michael Noone took their chances last week and performed remarkably and deserve to keep their places. Matt Challinor is having a break, he has played nearly every game for us this season and fortunately we have the opportunity to rest him for two weeks ahead of the play-offs.”

Doncaster Knights
15 David McIlwaine 14 Dougie Flockhart 13 Fred Burdon 12 PJ Gidlow 11 Michael Keating
10 Tom Luke 9 Chris Hallam ©
1 Tom Davies 2 Steve Boden 3 Alex Brown 4 Glen Kenworthy 5 Dominic Parsons
6 Andy Boyde 7 Zack Farivarz 8 Michael Noone

Royce Burke-Flynn, Jack Yeandle, Adam Kettle, Latu Makaafi
David Bradford, Michael Heaney, Oli Goss.